By Owen Ranson, Philosophy and Theology
'Bring Me the Horizon continue to push their infectious brand of pop metal into the mainstream', Owen Ranson reviews
Without doubt, British metal is on the rise. With artists such as Architects routinely selling out arenas across the country, it seems that the current talent crop have the power to follow the likes of Iron Maiden and thrust metal back into the mainstream. No band has proved more effective at garnering a wide audience than Bring Me the Horizon, with their last two albums ‘Sempiternal’ and ‘That’s the Spirit’ debuting at 3rd and 2nd in the UK album chart respectively, whilst receiving wide critical acclaim. It’s a far cry from the Bring Me the Horizon that I grew up listening to- much of the metalcore screams, growls and riffs are now absent, but their evolution has been impressive nonetheless.
Before going into BMTH’s live performance I must direct attention to the supporting act, FEVER333, a new project fronted by ex-letlive vocalist Jason Aalon Butler. I had always been a fan of letlive and their energetic and destructive performances (Jason has a tendency to destroy equipment and climb the stage) and thus I knew this project would be good, but even so I had massively underestimated them. Entering the stage dressed as a Guantanamo Bay inmate, complete with a sack over his head, Jason instantly grabbed the crowd’s attention. The set that followed can only be described as explosive. I had thought that being on an arena tour might have calmed Jason’s antics. I was completely wrong. The band had an incredible stage presence and received possibly the best response I have ever seen a support band get from a crowd, with their politically charged message about the police brutality suffered by African Americans creating a rage fuelled storm of a performance. My personal highlights were Jason throwing a drum 30 feet into the air, and attempting to tear down their band’s banner. Despite the fact that they are only a 3-piece, their sound is expansive and raw. Truly a band I cannot recommend highly enough.
I went to the Bring Me The Horizon concert in Cardiff the other night and i’ve never felt so much happiness in a room in my life; Music is an amazing thing.— Ryan Hudson (@Ryan_Huds) November 29, 2018
With the stage well and truly set, it was time for Sheffield’s Bring Me the Horizon to take control. With the crowd’s anticipation and energy at a maximum, BMTH took to the stage with their explosive new single “Mantra” which already seems one of their strongest songs to date. Vocalist Oli Sykes proceeded to rile up the crowd in his Yorkshire brogue, calling out “let’s fuckin’ ave it Cardiff” before rattling off ‘The House of Wolves’, ‘Avalanche’ and ‘Go to Hell, for Heaven’s Sake’ in quick succession. A treat was in store for an already raucous crowd, as the band introduced fan favourite ‘Sleepwalking’ into the mix, causing almost every voice in the arena to rise into melody whilst also creating an enormous mosh pit. After this, another single of their forthcoming album ‘Amo’ was performed in ‘Wonderful Life’, with its purposefully depressing lyrics such as “Alone getting high on a Saturday night, I’m on the edge of a knife” at harmony with the punishing and industrial guitar work.
After a brief pause, BMTH unleashed the anthemic ‘Shadow Moses’ onto Cardiff. Seeing and hearing thousands of people singing “We live our lives like we’re ready to die, we’re going nowhere” was really a special moment in the gig, and highlighted how BMTH have managed to capture the feelings of the counterculture behind metal and heavy rock in their dissatisfaction with modern life, and is evidence of why they are so popular. This theme was continued with “Happy Song” up next, another focused on the struggles of depression and the emptiness many people feel in modern society.
The next part of the gig was by far my favourite, as Oli explained to the crowd “a few days ago in Leeds, we played a few old songs for my birthday, and I guess you lot are gonna wanna fuckin’ hear them too right?” This was met with screams from the crowd, which was precisely what Oli gave them in return, as they launched into a deathcore and metalcore medley of some of their oldest songs in ‘The Comedown / (I Used to Make Out With) Medusa / Diamonds Aren’t Forever / Re: They Have No Reflections’. The brutality of these songs almost seemed to shock the new era of BMTH fans, as an almost stunned silence descended upon the audience during these songs, bar a few old school fans (myself included of course) who happily growled and moshed their way through some old classics. This part of the gig really made me appreciate how far BMTH really have come; I remember seeing ‘Diamonds Aren’t Forever’ being played in a small club in Manchester, and here were that same band playing to an entire arena.
I have to admit that the final four songs of the gig weren’t as enjoyable for me given the nostalgia hit from the old school medley. However, the fans certainly loved the electronic tinged 'Can You Feel My Heart?'. Furthermore, the softer 'Follow You' was also greeted with great enthusiasm. BMTH then played perhaps my least favourite of their songs, the overly cliché ‘Antivist’ which I feel sits at odds with their overall message, with lyrics such as 'middle fingers up, if you don’t give a fuck' making me feel rather old as I watched teenagers loving every minute of it. BMTH did then show their versatility though, with a stripped back performance of the song that truly signalled the change of their sound, ‘Drown’, which prompted lighter waving sing-alongs from the entire crowd.
For their encore, BMTH employed two of their most popular songs from their last album, in ‘Doomed’ and ‘Throne’ (which has over 100 million Spotify streams). Throne was a fully triumphant performance, leaving a baying crowd in its wake, all of whom I’m sure had a great night.
As I left the venue, my thoughts lingered back to just how far this band have come in the past five or so years. At no point did they seem out of place playing in a 10,000 capacity venue, which is incredible for a band that most people would’ve seen as torture to their ears just a few short years ago. Whilst my inner 15 year old self still does yearn for the days when BMTH were employing growls and breakdowns, I have to say that their new sound is brilliant. The success that they have achieved in moving more people to listen to metal really gives me hope, as a fan of heavier music, that metal won’t be seen as just 'shouting and screaming', and that the truly talented bands in the genre will receive the recognition they deserve.
Bring Me the Horizon’s new album Amo will be released this month, and I implore you, whether you like heavy music or not, to give it a listen.
Featured Image: Bring Me The Horizon/ Epitaph Records
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