Bring Me The Horizon
There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is A Heaven, Lets Keep It A Secret

The UK has a lot to answer for with its mainstream rock/metal talent, but then again, the UK has a lot to answer for with regards to many other things. The long list of reprobates include the likes of Amy Winehouse, footballers and their unexplainable wage demands and politicians expensing everything from their second homes to their swimming pools so that the tax payer can pick up the bill.

No wonder there’s a recession.

All this seems to have no impact on Bring Me The Horizon though and their shiny new album with one of the longest (and most ridiculous) titles in recent memory. It would be expected that given the economic downturn that luxuries such as artwork, budget for music videos but above all recording with a top producer would be among the first casualties of financial scrutiny. No such chance here, this album sounds massive, with each detail nipped, tucked and honed to absolute perfection, poising it to launch the band towards the echelons of mega-stardom.

The figures and media hype already back this up as the album has charted well in the UK, US and Australia, on top of this the sheer level of hysteria surrounding them hints that the master plan to take over the world is coming to fruition. Even if the rest of the world’s sane population refutes this it seems that the ascent of their profile is unstoppable. Furthermore, the band are so acutely aware of what moves to make but most importantly, on how to shape the perceptions and tastes of their fan base, mainstream metal press and the stragglers who are still undecided whether they like them or not (but are leaning towards to them), that they could in theory release anything, as long as their logo was emblazoned all over it.

Case in point, the plundering from The Red Chord, At The Gates, Suicide Silence, Aborted and The Black Dahlia Murder as well as all the bands on Trustkill & Ferret that ever wrote a breakdown, to formulate their early work have been marginalized considerably on this album. There is no Swedish gallop, nor dual shrieked/guttural vocal interplay nor a cast iron arsenal of breakdowns (this is the one element though that is not altogether eradicated). After all, trying to out-breakdown Suicide Silence and out-metal The Black Dahlia Murder was so 2006/07. This season it’s all about ripping Misery Signals, Shai Hulud, Metallica (BMTH’s bloated sense of grandeur as there is a strong feeling that they view this album as their Master of Puppets), Everytime I Die and more.

Launched by the six minute plus “Crucify Me,” it’s overt that BMTH intend to not only make the transition to mega-stardom, but to remain there. The track is lead by a delicate, shimmering riff that gently tugs and fades repetitively, emphasising the lush production and generating an epic setting, one that’s destined to fill stadiums worldwide. When listening objectively, the first thing that comes to mind is that they have been studying, worshiping and then logically pilfering (they wouldn’t be the first) Master of Puppets, as this sounds like its intended to be their “Battery.”

The intro, like that in “Battery,” lingers briefly before bursting into one of the first frantic gallops of the album, but whereas the Metallica classic was formed around sublime riffing and duelling, there is nothing of the sort here. What’s played, are not really riffs as such but a mingled mash of several duelling melodies that clash, contort and then repeat throughout the verses under Sykes anaemic yelping (he now sounds like a less gravelly Keith Buckley from Everytime I Die).

The sound is a fusion of diluted, less powerful Botch styled scrapes and are dressed with cascading melodies that could equally be pulled from either Misery Signals or Shai Hulud but having neither the grace nor grandeur of those metalcore greats. There’s just simply no bite, no power to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention, it’s synthetic, vacuous, they chug on insignificantly leaving no real impression.

That alone is not really grounds to write off an album so early into its playtime, but what follows are a series of insane song writing choices that plague and ultimately ruin the album. Exhibit one, around minute two of “Crucify Me,” some of the most annoying female vocals ever aloofly saunter in and stop everything else, dead. They mumble drearily the album title with a sulky childish twang, over and over. Frankly, they sound horrible, and regrettably don’t disappear, they hang around annoyingly until the track’s conclusion.

Now I have nothing against female vocals, in fact, done right, they are supremely powerful, but their utilisation here is awful. The tone is wrong, there is no weight or richness in her voice but that’s nothing in comparison to the delivery, because it’s shockingly dire. The intent is to sound ethereal and haunting but rather comes out as an eight year old reading badly from a hymn sheet, and in the context of the track it makes no sense at all!

That’s not the end of it though. To make matters worse, later on in the track the female vocals are distorted, mangled and transformed into a dance beat/rhythm that sounds like it should be on a trance compilation. It’s a truly bizarre decision, but above anything else, it violently churns my gut, and makes me wonder if I am just getting old and don’t understand music anymore, or, if my instinct is right and that this album is nothing but a waste of time.

As if to apologize for this musical heresy, there are plenty of beefy gang vocals throughout to offset and maybe even displace the memory and presence of the female vocals. Despite this, there’s another problem, although the lyrics are different (“Pray for the dead,”) the rhythm and flow sounds almost exactly like those in Comeback Kid’s “Wake The Dead,” it could be coincidence, or it could be they hoped that no one would notice if they slipped that in.

From then on, the mess rolls forward. Be it more Misery Signals/Shai Hulud worship and dilution in the tracks that immediately follow the opener, namely “Anthem,” and “It Never Ends,” or yet more insane song writing choices as on “Don’t Go.” To be fair, “Don’t Go,” does start promisingly, with mournful My Dying Bride styled atmospherics beginning the track, but then this is quashed when Sykes begins yelping again and then as if to raise the middle finger even more defiantly, the female vocalist from “Crucify Me,” makes a return to mumble more nonsense.

As much as they infuriate and frustrate me, I do want to like and support BMTH, but they just seem to manage every single time to prevent me from doing so. Most annoying is that it’s clear that BMTH love music (although Oli Sykes openly professing a love for Linkin Park has me thinking otherwise), that they want to push their own forward and write something that reflects their obvious natural talent, but now, after three albums it seems that the older they get, the harder it is for me to have time for them, but most importantly, connect with them.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Benjamin DeBlasi
November 1st, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Andy Synn

    That’s one of the most considered and well-written reviews of this band I have ever seen from what I would consider a “serious metal publication”. Kudos.

    I agree, that the record (and the band as a whole) aren’t very good. But it’s nice to see someone giving constructive criticism in their review, rather than a knee-jerk reaction to their cool/scene status (which simply gives bands a free pass to ignore any criticism as “elitist” etc).

    There’s a LOT of other band’s ideas ont his album it seems to me, they’ve dumped the “metal” elements – which is fair enough,t hey were never going to be good at being a metal band, and have admitted so themselves and are aiming for a heavy-“rock” sound – but as you said, replaced it with badly done pastiches of other band’s sounds.

    Particularly, it seems to me, there’s a lot of elements reminiscent of recent British breakthrough “rock” acts, attempts at mangling and amalgamating badly done attempts to copy elementys of Muse/Biffy Clyro/Lostprophets/65 Days Of Static which don’t sit well together and make me wonder if an A&R guy was involved saying “look guys, these bands all got popular, if you’re like all of them at once you can be even more popular!”.

    As to your comment about how they “love music”, I wuld never try and second guess their intentions and hope that they do sincerely love music, however they seem to have little to no restraint or quality control, as the mish-mash of styles attests. Why can’t people realise that not EVERYTHING works together, just because you’ve found that it CAN be put together. Very fewa rtists in history are talented enough to organically mix different styles, and I don’t see BMTH as having enough self-awareness to realise this.

    Still, good and thought provoking review.


  2. Commented by: seaofcartilage

    Allow me to condense that review for you:

    shit sandwich.


  3. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    this band is an insane joke on the “metal” populace. fuck this crap, and the entire genre what spawned it.


  4. Commented by: krustster

    Come on, there is like 8 paragraphs talking about how popular the band is and the rest of this review is “I don’t like the first song and the rest of the album is okay.” Who gives a shit about whether or not bands want to propel themselves to stardom or whatever the fuck. Not like you can’t dislike the album, because that is understandable. It just seems like the vast majority of the criticism put on this band is roasting them for being too popular, for their fans being annoying, and then the rest is grasping at straws like “there is a part in one song that sort of sounds like another band.” I have to question if you have actually listened to Misery Signals and Shai Hulud if you think “Anthem” is blatant worship of those bands.

    Anyway I like this tape, but I can see people not liking it because they really do throw a lot of stuff at the wall and see if it sticks. Worked for me but I don’t give the slightest shit about their stardom status.


  5. Commented by: xbenx

    Thanks to everyone for the comments, just to expand on a few things because I did find this one a real tough one to review.

    Andy, I couldn’t agree more with your observation, there is a definite push towards making “heavier,” implement these more leftfield elements to help crossover, Gallows is another one that comes to mind at taking a similar approach.

    Sea & Nick, I hear you and empathize with you.

    Kruster I always like and respect your comments on reviews but I have to disagree with you on several things you’ve written here. Firstly, there’s not 8 paragraphs demeaning their popularity, the point I’m making is the context of the band in the current socio-economic climate and what I am trying to understand and put up for discussion is why. Not a problem if you think that’s unimportant, I just didn’t want to take the easy way out and right that I think that this is total shit because that would be just too easy and what’s more, it doesn’t make for interesting reading and most importantly, it doesn’t respect the reader.

    Secondly, the majority of the criticism is levelled at the music. There are 3 paragraphs about the female vocals in “Crucify Me,” admittedly, I stewed too much on that track alone but the fact that they got under my skin that much and that it resulted in that many words is evidence enough that I was not thoroughly impressed. That goes for the rest of the album as well, I’m definitely not of the opinion that the first track is rubbish and the rest is “ok.”

    Finally regarding Misery Signals & Shai Hulud, I’m more than familiar with both bands, I reviewed “Controller,” in 2008 which you can check the archives.


  6. Commented by: krustster

    well thanks for reading my overly feisty comment and responding thoughtfully! I always have kneejerk reactions when I read reviews of popular bands that I happen to enjoy because I am used to reading “THIS SUX BECAUSE IT’S TOO POPULAR” type reviews. I was probably out of line.


  7. Commented by: krustster

    I’ll just blame it on roid rage and leave it at that.


  8. Commented by: Andy Synn

    I don’t get Gallows either…

    For all that they’ve been referred to as a resurgence in UK punk, the songs I have heard have primarily erred on the side of bland UK indie-rock with “punk” caterwauling over it – thereby presenting an acceptable facade to both sides of the musical divide.


  9. Commented by: krustster

    I agree with the Gallows assessment, one of their tapes had 2 or 3 enjoyable songs on it but the rest just seemed like bland Critics Love It stuff.


  10. Commented by: xbenx

    No worries Krustster! It’s all about dialogue, that’s what I’m after, and also, this way I can improve as a writer! :) As for Gallows…less said the better, another sheep in wolves clothing as Andy put it astutely!


  11. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    Gallows at least have actual punk/hardcore credibility. and the ability to write a listenable song.


  12. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    Dialogue, shmialogue. Its all about an opinion on an album, which are a dime a dozen… especially when you can download anything you want for free in a matter of seconds. Don’t like an album? Don’t like a review? Who cares? In the grand scheme of things, no one.


  13. Commented by: krustster

    If you feel that way then why are you reading this website?


  14. Commented by: shaolinlambkiller

    This review should’ve just said: ‘horrible generic horseshit from a generic horrible band’


  15. Commented by: BMTHneutral

    Not gonna lie, I used to slag off BMTH ALL THE TIME!! I literally hated everything I heard of theirs…until this album.
    Still haven’t really heard it enough for it to become either a firm fave or another drab attempt at metal, but I have to agree with @krustser here, on reading this review (and I am totally neutral on the subject) I definitely noticed you spending more time talking about their growing popularity than the actual album…and the actual review of the album was very propaganda-like. I.e. Trying to make it seem like you’re being fair when you’re not.

    I don’t like BMTH but the album seems very promising in my ears, and instead of slagging off the production/influences, maybe take it for what it is and realise that the fact you used the word “epic” to describe a certain section is actually a pretty good thing!!
    Ps – the “there is a heaven” female vocals were CLEARLY meant to sound like kids singing it…


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