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One has to admire the chutzpah of Sheffield crew Bring Me the Horizon.
Poised to dominate British metal in the wake of 2010’s third album, There Is a Hell…, the move to a major label for this fourth collection could have signposted graduation to undefeated heavyweight status.
But then came the curveballs. Sempiternal – the title is a term for “everlasting time” – is trailed by two singles, Sleepwalking and Can You Feel My Heart, which present new, synthetic textures to the forefront of the BMTH mix.
These songs are still acerbic, aggressive and mosh-friendly; but their composition owes much to the accessible end of the electro spectrum.
Here are glitched beats and processed sounds that don’t always sit easily in a metal(core) context. The background to these pieces’ creation is one of personnel turbulence: guitarist Jona Weinhofen, formerly of Bleeding Through, departed during the making of Sempiternal, while the band welcomed Worship’s keyboard player and programmer Jordan Fish into their ranks.
Now a full-time member of BMTH, Fish’s influence can be felt several times – underpinning the anthemic design of Crooked Young with subtle washes of colour, providing a warming pulse to the album’s centrepiece, Hospital for Souls.
A more familiar constituent is Oli Sykes’ powerful lead vocals, frequently supported by other members on gang-hollered mantras. As is natural for a frontman still in his 20s, Sykes is developing with each album. What was a rasp has grown into a roar; but he also exhibits a fine straight-up singing voice, and transitions from tender intimacy to full-frontal assault are always bracing.
Lyrically, Sykes is trading in simple-enough yin-and-yang structures: Go to Hell’s “go to Hell, for Heaven’s sake”; Can You Feel My Heart’s “The higher I get, the lower I sink”.
But these aren’t words of obvious depth – they feel engineered, whatever the inspiration, for maximum scream-along potential. And these are songs for huge crowds, too – befitting the band’s status as a significant draw at the coming summer festivals.
Terry Date’s production ensures that even the most violent selections – Anti-Vist is the rawest track you’ll hear on a charting album in 2013, effectively deploying the (very worst) c-word – gleam with an instant accessibility.
And while Sempiternal isn’t the equal of another genre-bending record Date has worked on, Deftones’ White Pony, it represents significant and successful progression for its makers.Share