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Album Review: Bring Me the Horizon—'amo'

by E.W Hemmings 3 years ago in album reviews
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'A Masterpiece of Reinvention'

The ability to polarise is seen by some as the mark of great artistry. To divide an audience is tantamount to not giving a fuck, to not giving in to the temptation of pleasing people for the sake of mainstream kudos, to making people talk and debate for all the right reasons. Here's a challenge for you. Find a band who has done this more successfully than Bring Me The Horizon. This is a band who was kicked to the ground in their early deathcore days before rising to the top of the British rock arsenal, much to the dismay of the fans who believed they'd gotten there by selling out, when in fact they were producing their most critically acclaimed music to date. And in true Bring Me style, they're dividing the crowd all over again with their most recent release, perhaps more so than ever. Step forward, amo.

Contrary to the beliefs of the haters, amo is not what selling out sounds like. amo is not the sound of a band having an identity crisis. amo is not the sound of a band trying to wedge its way into the mainstream in pursuit of a bit of extra cash. amo is the sound of a future where people are unconstrained by the concept of genre or even by the concept of fitting into a certain scene or demographic. This is an album that is about as 2019 as music gets, but it is a record that is a million miles away from being part of a trend. If anything, it is a trend all of its own.

The sixth opus from the Sheffield five piece is difficult to pigeonhole or even summarise. It's big, it's daring, occasionally a bit of a head scratcher, but nothing feels remotely wrong or out of place. Bring Me are using their status as one of the big boys of 21st century rock not to cheapen themselves, but to do whatever the hell they want, because they can. In fact, on tracks like "in the dark" and "medicine" in particular, it feels like the guys are teasing us, throwing in pop sensibilities to send the metal purists running for the exit in a cold sweat before a guitar riff reminds us that they haven't completely abandoned their musical upbringings. Rock and metal brush shoulders with EDM (yes, you read that right—nihilist blues is quite a 'huh?' moment), grime (see heavy metal) and even classical (album closer 'I don't know what to say') to quite extraordinary effect. The juxtaposition of violins and guitar hailing back to the band's 2016 gig at the Royal Albert Hall sounds so utterly cinematic that it's hard not to question why nobody has attempted to do it before.

If, somehow, you need more proof that the BMTH you know and love isn't totally dead, flip open the album's liner notes. Frontman Oli Sykes is on fine lyrical form as ever across these 13 tracks, bringing his dry wit ('Guess my fairytale has a few plot holes,' he confesses on the aforementioned "in the dark") and creativity to the theme of love, without for a second succumbing to clichés. Yet this isn't an album to root your teeth. The record forays into alternative lyrical territories, like the responses of 'fans' to the band's changing sound on "why'd you gotta kick me when i'm down?" and "heavy metal" provide a refreshing palette cleanser in a typically Sykes-esque tongue-in-cheek fashion.

What amo accomplishes in the greatest significance is something music often fails to do. It challenges you. It challenges your perception of what music can be, of what you blast in your ears on a daily basis, of what you like and what you don't. It's a work of genius almost by accident, and a masterpiece of reinventing yourself without losing the plot. Approach this with an open mind, and there'll be something you're bound to love, for after all, all challenges bring rewards.

album reviews

About the author

E.W Hemmings

A novelist/feminist/aspiring music writer from the UK.

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