Most metal fans already know the story of Bring Me the Horizon, but for those unfamiliar let me briefly recap: Bring Me the Horizon (commonly abbreviated BMTH) is an English rock band who started their career as a metalcore act and made several albums that were fairly popular among fans of that genre, but in 2015 (either as a result of the wear and tear on lead vocalist Oliver Sykes vocals, or just out of a desire to break free and experiment) they drastically toned things down and went in a softer rock direction with “That’s The Spirit“.
Such a change, unsurprisingly, alienated a lot of fans (What? Metalheads are elitist? You dont say?), but it also gained them a lot of new fans as well (me being one of them). Personally, I was never a big fan of their harder stuff, despite generally preferring heavier music. I just never felt like their songwriting or vocals in that style were particularly strong. However, “That’s The Spirit” really impressed me. Instead of sounding like yet another generic screamo band they moved into a sound that was very much all their own. I later learned that that album was inspired by Syke’s love for Linkin Park and his desire to make a hit record like “Hybrid Theory” and that influence was certainly apparent and remains true to this day.
Now the band has put out a follow up called “Amo“, a concept album based on Skye’s failed first marriage and rediscovery of love in the form of his new wife Alissa Salls. As his wife is Brazilian and speaks Portuguese the title of the album (which means “Love), was inspired by her (more on that later).
When the singles for the record, “MANTRA”, and “Wonderful Life”, first started dropping, I gotta be honest, I wasn’t that into them, and I was worried “That’s The Spirit” was going to be a one album wonder for me. But some things, especially concept albums, really need to be heard as a complete work of art to be fully appreciated. It was definitely a grower, but now I love the album, and consider it their best work so far.
The sound of “Amo” blends a lot of influences from pop, electronic, rock, and even hip hop, and could be best summed up as EDM infused rock, sort of like the music of Starset. Oddly, a lot of fans have expressed disappointment in what they consider a further shift into pop territory. I say oddly because I’m not sure why these people act like this is a new change when their entire last album was the same way. Furthermore, I don’t think “Amo” is actually a switch to full on pop like so many are acting. It’s more just an evolution of “That’s The Spirit”, as it’s retains a moodiness and darkness in the lyrics, instrumentation, and vocals that I don’t think would ever get played on top 40s pop radio.
The Song by Song:
The record finds the band freely experimenting with sounds and elements of different genres but it somehow meshes them together into something that’s still undeniably BMTH. The album begins with the ghostly intro “i apologise if you feel something” before moving into the lead single “MANTRA“, which is the most traditional rock song on the album and talks about Sykes former marriage which lyrically he likens to starting a cult. “Nihilist blues” is a trancy dark rave track feat. atmospheric vocals by guest feature Grimes and is one of the longer songs on the album.
“in the dark” has a great chorus section that reveals some of the first cracks in the ill fated relationship that’s the subject of much of the album. “wonderful life“, with its bouncy buzzsaw riffs and raspy guest vocals by none other than Dani Filth from Cradle of Filth, feels like a song the band tossed in to make sure there was a nice balance of heavy and light material. You’ll definitely find yourself bobbing your head to it on replays.
Those first five songs are all fairly good, but it’s the interlude “ouch” where the album really starts to open up. Featuring a super catchy melody sung with a sped up voice and a drum and bass beat, this track ushers in the more experimental side of things, leading into the first major highlight, and my personal favorite song of the album, “medicine“. Starting with the memorable line “Some people are a lot like clouds you know…cause life’s so much brighter when they go”,this one really shows off the creative songwriting on display with super catchy verses that are cleverly arranged for maximum impact.
Another favorite is “sugar honey ice & tea“, which features the best guitar riff on the whole album played over high pitched vocals that go, “we’re so full of…sugar, honey, ice and tea” – a sweet way of saying “shit”. Things continue to get interesting with “why you got to kick me when i’m down“, which features a rapped set of verses, Pink Floydish school kid chanting, and an aggressive refrain with a backing instrumentation that strangely made me think of Hans Zimmer’s Inception soundtrack. If you listen to any portion of this album I recommend this middle section of songs the most.
The second interlude “fresh bruises” segways into the last third of record. It’s a bit weird with the artificially lowered repeating vocals but it does find the band stretching their electronica legs a bit more. That leads into “mother tongue“, a love ballad Sykes wrote about his new found love. It’s undoubtedly the softest and poppiest track on the album, but that’s to be expected considering the subject matter. The lyrics namedrop the title of the album with the line “So don’t say you love me “Fala amo”, imploring his wife to “Just let” her “heart speak up” – which he calls her “mother tongue”. It’s a mildy clever and cutesy concept, and one of stronger tracks if you can handle such a thing. It’s the “Follow You” of this album.
The penultimate track, “heavy metal“, is anything but. Featuring beat boxer Rahzel, the track actually pokes fun at folks who have stopped being fans of the band because of their change in sound. It could have come off as a dick move, but it’s very clearly tongue and cheek with lines like “I’m afraid you don’t love me anymore, Cause a kid on the ‘gram in a Black Dahlia tank, Says it ain’t heavy metal”, a reference to Instagram and The Black Dahlia Murder fans (a fucking amazing band you should check out as well).
Lastly, we have “i don’t know you what to say“, a string heavy outro with an almost 90s acoustic rock vibe to it – like The Verve or something. I didn’t really have much to say about it other than it’s a suitable way to close out the album.
“Amo” is probably the best modern rock album I’ve heard since Starset – Vessels. It did take some getting used to, especially the ample use of voice modulation to make some vocals sound artificially low and high, but I found myself coming back to it and getting lost in how interesting, varied, and well written everything was. I’ve even heard some people compare the abstract genre bending of this album to Linkin Parks “A Thousand Suns” (a personal fav of mine) but I actually think this album is closer to LP’s more recent “One More Light” album, which saw the band attempt to veer into pop music but in a way that didn’t feel genuine or inventive. Perhaps it’s their youth, but Bring Me The Horizon pulls off that same foray into modern pop while retaining a distinctly rock sound much better, creating something that feels as fresh as nu-metal did when Korn and Limp Bizkit dropped their debuts back in the 90s. Although the high points never quite reach the level of tracks like “Doomed” or “Avalanche” from “That’s The Spirit”, the songwriting on “Amo” is more consistent throughout. Where I found myself only liking about half of TTS, I pretty much like the entirety of Amo.
The Rebel Domain Score: