For Fans Of
Bring Me The Horizon represent something in this scene; be it ambition, be it growth, be it thinking outside the box to the extent that they’ve left it completely and set it on fire. That kind of legacy, that unprecedented ability to step up to the task, has put them so far ahead of their competition that they’re running their own race. With new LP, ‘That’s The Spirit’, they haven’t fallen back.
To preface this review, it’s necessary to point out that making comparisons to past records, most impulsively, ‘Sempiternal’, is a moot task; ‘That’s The Spirit’ has entered fresh, entirely different territory. As much as we’d like to sit back and draw lines between the prequel and the sequel, this album can only be truly appreciated if the change is absorbed, not resisted. This is also the first album that the UK lads have self-produced, and if how big it is acts as any indication, it’s undeniable that they’ve done a damn good job of it.
Now that we’ve said that, we can move on to how impressive it is. ‘That’s The Spirit’ is a work rooted, unexpectedly, not in metalcore, but in alternative rock, preserving its metalcore elements under its surface instead of at the forefront. But unlike the turnarounds of most bands, it doesn’t sound like a contrived step forward – it sounds like a genuine progression. The first thing that will stand out to listeners is how dominant clean vocals, as opposed to uncleans, are in these tracks. It was foreshadowed by ‘Drown’ and it’s preserved on the album – opener ‘Doomed’ showcases how Oli Sykes’ vocals have improved, from timid to developed (its lyrics will also explain the umbrella logo, just in case you wanted to clarify the imagery). Single ‘Throne’ is more of what you’d expect as a follow-up to ‘Drown’, catapulting the band lyrically and overall musically down the mainstream rock path that it unveiled for them. However, it’s ‘Blasphemy’ that’s the real pioneer of this direction, with Oli’s strong, confident vocals interacting with skilful guitars to create a rock song that doesn’t rely on screaming for emphasis but an alternative method of crafting aggression.
As different as it is for songs like ‘What You Need’ to be hook heavy and pop technical, ‘That’s The Spirit’ still falls short of feeling inauthentic. Its massive alt-rock anthems and even its heart-eyed love songs (see ‘Follow You’) still feel logical – the band is in a good place, so naturally there’s going to be an element of triumph on this album, and a clearer picture of the light at the end of the tunnel. Though it’s still dark, it isn’t as dark as it is self-realised. Take ‘Happy Song’ as an example, which is as joyous as it is internally tormented. Interestingly, that song, one of the album’s heaviest, is self-aware, speaking directly to its audience like a more mature version of ‘Anthem’.
Lyrically, from the Wildean line ‘true friends stab you in the front’ to closer ‘Oh No’, which has a subject matter that’s a far cry from the boys who once brought us ‘party ‘til you pass out/drink ‘til you’re dead’, this album is chock a block with new understandings. Though broad in subject at some points, it has enough transparency to prove that Bring Me the Horizon are a beautiful example of the ability to witness personal evolution through music. At its molten core, ‘That’s The Spirit’ is the sonic consequence of over ten years of blood, sweat, tears, friends, meet and greet line-ups, flares in mosh pits, sold out venues, rehab stints, lineup changes, elbow grease and investment.
If you don’t look at this album on its own, you’ll see right past it. If you do, you’ll have the pleasure of a relatively metallic but mostly alt-rock and subtly pop-oriented listening experience that’s more accessible than Bring Me the Horizon’s last albums but just as hard-hitting as any deathcore attempt. Emotion is the foundation of this record, growth the objective, and triumph the result.
2. Happy Song
4. True Friends
5. Follow You
6. What You Need
11. Oh No