Ambitious. That’s the best word to describe Bring Me The Horizon. Their drive to make it to the very top hasn’t been without controversy - like any band that develops away from their initial sound to something more expansive and - gulp - mainstream, they’ve suffered their fair share of slings and arrows in the process. No matter what the haters say, though, ‘amo’ isn’t a cynical sellout. In much the same way as 2015’s ‘That’s The Spirit’, it’s the sound of a band striving to find something that goes beyond the narrow genre boundaries that defined the scene they first arrived into.
2019 isn’t so much about barriers and tribes, but for crossing the musical divides of old. That’s what ‘amo’ does. Bubbling with high flying synths and pop sensibilities just as often - if not more so - as it finds a meaty riff, at times it sounds like a totally different band. The short, sharp ‘ouch’ comes from a totally different world, and yet it works. ‘Nihilist Blues’, which sees the band team up with cybergoth queen Grimes, is equal parts shiny and sinister, finding a bridge between their two rapidly merging universes. But while some may see these as disappointments, they’re undoubtedly in the minority. Each makes Bring Me The Horizon a more interesting, relevant band, refusing to remain in the time loop that threatens to consume any act unwilling to cross the streams.
When they find the balance, ‘amo’ is up there with the best Bring Me have. ‘Sugar’ is equal parts brutal and bombastic, while lead single ‘Mantra’ demands maximum attention, by force if necessary. Yes, it’s pop rock rather than metal, but it’s still a million miles from chart filler.
It’s when they fully depart the ranch that ‘amo’ really shines, though. The pulsating ‘Why You Gotta Kick Me When I’m Down’ may be as much Chase & Status as it is Bring Me The Horizon, but it signals a band unconcerned with expectations, trying out their artistic urges.
The truth is, for a band to exist on the scale Bring Me The Horizon aspire, they need to constantly evolve. As rock struggles to gain a hold on streaming service playlists, sitting still was never an option. While the spirit stays the same, the sounds change and twist, refusing to sit and get fat on the old rules of yesteryear. Right now, when it comes to finding a mix that works, Bring Me are the best in the game. What’s not to love?