Bring Me The Horizon – Sempiternal
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Record Label: Epitaph
In 2010, no one was expecting Bring Me The Horizon to release the kind of album they did. There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is A Heaven, Let’s Keep It A Secret was such an incredible progression from the band’s Suicide Season that it knocked mostly everything in the metalcore community on its ass. Having gained newfound respect and plenty of new fans with that release, the community now had expectations for the Sheffield, England band, and sometimes that can make or break you.
And maybe that’s why it took so long for the band to release its fourth album (and third for Epitaph), Sempiternal. There were times where vocalist Oliver Sykes thought that his band might never release a follow-up. But instead of crumbling under the pressure, Bring Me The Horizon instead released its most daring and stunning album yet.
While this album will still be (rightfully) placed under the “metalcore” category, Sempiternal features some songs that are definitely not. Opening track “Can You Feel My Heart” is a jittery electronic-paced jam that features Sykes favoring shouting over his customary growl. It’s a bold opener for a band like Bring Me The Horizon whose claim to fame getting as brutal as possible. But instead of just trying to throw in as many breakdowns and guttural screams as possible, Bring Me The Horizon continues the progression shown on There Is A Hell by improving its songwriting tenfold. There are more electronics, different tempos, and more attention paid to constructing the best songs (and not just metal bangers) possible.
Don’t get me wrong, though, Sempiternal is still a very heavy record. The scorching first single “Shadow Moses” is a bridge between the last album and Sempiternal (its auditory assault paced by some of drummer Matt Nicholls’ best work), while “Antivist” turns back the clock to Suicide Season (unsurprisingly it’s the only misstep on the album, and a slight one at that). Other than those two tracks, though, the album features Bring Me The Horizon treading new ground.
If you thought the strides these guys took as musicians on There Is A Hell was impressive, prepare to be blown out of the water with Sempiternal. Anthems such as “Go To Hell, For Heavens Sake” and “Seen It All Before” would have just been buried in loud guitars and a barrage of breakdowns. Rather, these songs show off how far each member has come; each one nicely layered and nuanced (guitarist Lee Malia unleashes some of his best solos on these tracks). The raucous “The House of Wolves” is the catchiest thrash punk song you’ll hear in 2013, while “Empire (Let Them Sing)” is a soaring epic, complete with programmed strings and backing choir. It transitions between ambience and chaos, making the track an unpredictable pleasure.
Produced by the legendary Terry Date (Deftones, Slipknot), Sempiternal is a very lush and euphoric record and it isn’t more apparent than in tracks like “Sleepwalking” and “And The Snakes Start To Sing” – two of the best songs in the band’s career. New keyboardist Jordan Fish adds exceptional flourishes to each – the former has a vibrancy unheard of before in BMTH while the slow haunting keys give the latter an intense darkness. Vocally, Sykes lays it all out there, sounding like Chester Bennington 2.0 during the verses on “Sleepwalking.” And the despair heard on “And The Snakes Start To Sing” is the perfect contrast to the song’s slow death march, ending furiously with Sykes yelling if he was “just a step, a fucking step to climb.”
The term "sempiternal" means “everlasting time” that can never actually come to pass - even though it sounds like Sykes is ready for things to wrap up at any time. Rather, he seems to be urging listeners to not take anything for granted since nothing lasts forever. Throughout the album’s eleven tracks, Sykes ranges from desperate ("I can't drown my demons/they know how to swim.") to anger ("I'm burning down every bridge we make/I'll watch you choke on the hearts you break") to guarded hope ("Wake up!/Pull me out/and give me a reason to start again"). Sykes continues to open himself up to the world, as his latest collection of lyrics are his strongest yet.
Sometimes I can't believe that this band released albums like Count Your Blessings and Suicide Season when I hear a song like "Hospital For Souls," the album's meteoric closer. It's an exhilarating experimental song - one that builds and burns into a stunning finish that'll leave you with chills as you hear Sykes final plea ("Hold me close, don't let go/Watch me burn!"). It's the final act for an album that has just as much substance as it has style. So you can throw out whatever expectations you had for Bring Me The Horizon in 2013, as Sempiternal is one of the most engaging albums of the year.
This is such an incredible record, definitely up there alongside Cartel and The Color Morale for AOTY right now. Also, I loved Suicide Season, but it's really been something to see Oliver grow as a songwriter - he's a really nice guy and takes his job seriously. Lastly, Jona Weinhofen DID write stuff on the record; Jona is without a doubt one of the realest dudes that I've met while doing interviews, and while I'm glad he's happy doing Prom Queen full time again, it sucks that he left BMTH.
Still fail to see what was so bad about Suicide Season. I understand that I have a higher threshhold for "generic" metalcore than most here and yes I did love Count Your Blessings but SS was a great CD that was a good transition between CYB and TIAH.