Band: Bring Me the Horizon
Producer: Terry Date
I’ve always given Bring Me the Horizon a wide berth in the past; they appear to be one of those bands that have oceans of style, but substance that’s only puddle-deep. After hearing the single ‘Sleepwalking’, I decided to give Sempiternal a go and I was pleasantly surprised. My previous prejudices were mainly centred on frontman Oli Sykes. I’m typically not one to let artists’ personal lives stop me enjoying their music, but this particular fellow seems to exhume an air of arrogance that until now seemed entirely unjustified, given that I’d never considered him a particularly good vocalist. On Sempiternal though, the vocals have been refined in a way that helps to tip the ‘substance’ side of the scales in the right direction. The introduction of a full-time keyboard player has given an industrial-sounding undertone to the band’s typical metalcore sound and this influence has changed the band’s sound into something more contemporary. The raw, raspy vocals complement this industrial feel and Sykes’ approach to harmony and delivery throughout the eleven tracks is impressive. In fact, the clean-vocals are reminiscent of Jared Leto on 30 Seconds to Mars’ self-titled debut album.
You’d imagine that these vocal improvements have removed my barriers to entry and that right now I’m on their merchandise page buying Bring Me the Horizon posters for my wall, right? Well, not quite. For all the improvements they’ve made in the vocal area, musically Sempiternal is quite simply boring. The drums are straightforward and underwhelming for a metalcore band, seemingly unable to propel the songs forward, and by the time you get into the second half of the album the riffs feel recycled and monotonous. This is only exacerbated further by the production which, while sounding clear and well mixed, feels completely soul-less and dare I say it – commercial.
If the musical elements of this album were more adventurous and the riffs more impactful, this album could have been excellent, but as it stands it sounds more like a transition record. The band have tried to develop their sound by creating something mature and refined, but in doing so have gone too far the other way and sapped all of the personality out of their music. That said, I’ve heard enough on this album to be interested in hearing more from the band in future and as long as they find a way to infuse some soul and personality into their new, mature sound they could be on to a winner.