Bring Me the Horizon – Sempiternal
Record Label: RCA / Epitaph Records
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Sometimes I like to start off reviews with hypothetical questions, and this one will be no exception, so to start off this review, have you ever listened to a band that you either never liked or used to like, and suddenly find yourself enjoying them again? Well, that’s how I feel with English metalcore turned melodic hardcore outfit Bring Me the Horizon. I used to enjoy this band quite a bit back in 2008, when I was into a lot of metalcore and post-hardcore. I thought this was band was pretty cool, because they were different, and had an interesting sound. While I may not care for their prior work anymore, fourth record Sempiternal was a very well-hyped record. There was plenty of talk for this record a few months ago when it was released, and for good reason – it’s a lot better than any of their other work. Of course, that would be the short version of this review, so what does make this record better than anything else they’ve done?
Bring Me the Horizon is a very polarizing band – you either like them or you don’t. Most people seem to have very staunch opinions on the band, and for good reason. This band is at the forefront of the “scene” trend, or at least, they have been for years. Third record, There Is a Hell Believe Me I’ve Seen It, There Is a Heaven Let’s Keep It a Secret shied away from their generic metalcore sound, albeit the record had the longest name I’ve ever heard for a record, but it was still lacking something. It came off as rather pretentious and trying way too hard to be something it wasn’t. There Is a Hell was different, and it was a step in the right direction, but their foots weren’t through the door just yet. Sempiternal, on the other hand, is the record that the band needed to make. At least, in terms of shedding their “scene” image. Sempiternal is an archaic English word that means unchanging and everlasting. I find the name of the record rather ironic just because their sound has changed throughout the last 9 years, which is the length of time they’ve been a band. Even so, the kind of change that frontman Oliver Sykes and company have gone through seems to be a good one. I’ve been holding off on listening to this record, merely because other records have come out that were more important to me, and I was skeptical on listening to this, even though I enjoyed first single “Shadow Moses” earlier this year. I finally managed to check it out, and I would say that their progression is a very good one. There Is a Hell had a lot of post-rock, and ambient influences on it, but the “br00tal” metalcore was still there, and really overshadowed the outside influences. This record does the opposite, however; a majority of it is very ambient, chilled out, and post-rock in sound. There are some very aggressive moments, but even then, they don’t come off as generic or boring. They actually are interesting and unique, mainly due in part to guitarist Lee Malia’s really cool guitar riffs and tones throughout the record. Keyboardist Jordan Fish also helps to create an atmosphere throughout the record with his very ambient keyboard riffs. The record actually starts off with a very atmospheric and chilled out track, “Can You Feel My Heart.” It’s right there that listeners can also hear Sykes’ vocal improvement. Now, I never really cared for Sykes’ vocals, because they have always been quite hoarse and scratchy (especially on later releases), but what I do appreciate here and that he actually tries to sing. And he does it well. He doesn’t merely sing in clean choruses as most metalcore bands do, however; he actually tries to sing and it works to his advantage. I’m sure he sang on There Is a Hell, but here, it comes off much more sincere. His harsh vocals don’t do much for me, but they’re tolerable.
Another thing that’s improved are his lyrics. I never cared for his lyrics, either; they were always tolerable or god-awful. Take these lyrics from a song on 2008’s Suicide Season for example: “And after everything you put me through, I should’ve f**king pissed on you!” Oliver Sykes? More like, Oliver Yikes. Okay, that was a bad joke, but all seriousness, his lyrics have improved. This record follows a concept, which is about analyzing consequences of someone’s actions in peoples’ lives and apologizing for thos actions. As Sykes puts it, the record has “a more considerate, contemplative and self-aware demeanour.” You know what? He’s not wrong. This record is very self-aware and introspective to one’s self. Sykes is very personal on this record. He also says that this record has a much more “anti-faith” mentality as well, which is woven throughout the record. It doesn’t do much for me, even though I’m not religious. For the most part, though, his lyrics are actually interesting and pleasant to listen to.
As I mentioned, the record does have its heavier moments, such as first single “Shadow Moses.” That song is the first song to be released from the record, and it was a great first impression. It was rather heavy, but it featured some nice melodic hardcore and post-rock influence. There are a few other songs that are rather aggressive, such as second track “The House of Wolves,” fourth track “Sleepwalking,” and tenth track “Crooked Young.” They haven’t shed the breakdowns just yet, but they’re done tastefully. For the most part, though, this record is quite chilled out. There are a lot of post-rock/experimental parts to it. Opening track, “Can You Feel My Heart,” is a perfect example of this. When I was listening to this for the first time, I wondered if that was even BMTH, because it sounds nothing like their material prior to this record. To be honest, I didn’t even know if I was listening to the same band. The same can be said for closing track “Hospital for Souls.” This is another one of my favorite tracks, because it’s a seven-minute atmospheric journey that ends where the record started, really. Along with that, some tracks even blend both sounds together, with having heavier parts in one area, and lighter, more melodic moments later on. Songs like third track “Empire (Let Them Sing),” and fifth track “Go to Hell, For Heaven’s Sake” feature that kind of blend. It works well for them, but the record can get rather lengthy. Clocking in at 45 minutes, there’s only so much time I’m willing to listen to Sykes’ rather hoarse vocals. I love the instrumentation, and to be honest, that’s the best part of the record. They’ve really improved, and while it’s not perfect, it’s a nice step up, and any fan of melodic hardcore/post-rock should check this out, even if you’re skeptical about BMTH.
Absolutely love this band and this release. This review on the other hand is just awful, sorry... There are comparisons to bands that share very minuscule similarities, the opening paragraph fails to draw the reader in, and certain lines are just too specific and unprofessional ("Shadow Moses" their first single... The first song they released off the record). Plenty of spelling errors and missing words, too. Better luck next time.
Also, "some tracks even blend both sounds together". You make it sound like the blending of heavy and soft is an unheard-of idea... This genre features plenty of this, and so did "There is a Hell". Do you mean because their earlier releases were just heavier?
I think this album really shows that Bring Me The Horizon has grown up, and as a result their sound has grown up as well.
I didn't like them before, but after listening to this album I can honestly say I'm a fan.