So much more than just the next rung on the ladder.
Released: 11th September 2015
A decade into a career that many were convinced held little more than some flash-in-the-pan MySpace success, Bring Me The Horizon hit their own glass ceiling. From their earliest days as a screeching banshee of deathcore’s worst tropes, through to ‘Sempiternal’’s Wembley Arena-filling anthemia, the Sheffield group had fine-tuned every element of their being, until every chug hit like a torpedo, every scream shook spines. It was time for a change-up.
Enter ‘That’s The Spirit’ and the band’s jaw-dropping emperor’s new clothes. Almost entirely gone is the screaming; so too are the breakdowns. In their place stand an album that’s more CHVRCHES than The Chariot, and a band who’ve never seemed more confident in their approach.
Early singles ‘Happy Song’ and ‘Throne’ might have marked ‘That’s The Spirit’ out as something of a left-turn, but in context they’re little more than baby steps. Opener ‘Doomed’ judders into life like the bastard comedown of a Berlin techno weekender, until frontman Oli Sykes reveals his stunning vocal transformation. Gone is the safety net of grit that he fell back on even in ‘Sempiternal’’s soppiest moments – with ‘That’s The Spirit’ he’s dives straight into a feather-weight croon that’s flooring.
From there on out, nothing’s out of bounds. ‘Avalanche’’s arms-aloft ode to overcoming dyslexia is backed by a carnivale horn section, something that would stake a claim for the most left-field addition on the album were it not for closer ‘Oh No’’s saxophone solo. No, really.
Lyrically, ‘Oh No’ sees Sykes tackling his problems with drug addiction in the most head-on manner yet, but before that he lays down the band’s first ever ballad – an ode to newly-wed spouse Hannah Snowden – with ‘Follow You’. “Cross my heart and hope to die, promise you I’d never leave your side,” he sings in caramel tones – a world away from the snarling, spitting Sykes of the band’s earlier odes to lost love.
Admittedly, there are times when Sykes’ lyricism trips up on itself, or when the band’s dedication to ditching needless breakdowns and heaviness leaves them treading water with little more than a slightly forgettable fuzz – that’s the beauty of ‘That’s The Spirit’, though. It may not be perfect, but Bring Me The Horizon never were. They’re a group that relish the fighting and the thrashing that comes with every step of an evolution. It’s that which marks out ‘That’s The Spirit’’s true majesty –so much more than just the next rung on the ladder, it’s an open door on a whole new world and another decade of innovation for one of modern metal’s most consistently vital and vibrant bands. Tom Connick