For Fans Of
There are certain topics these days that create the loudest, most insufferable discourse online imaginable. This ranges from the all-consuming void of U.S. politics (#Auspol is equally noisy); pro-choice versus pro-life (their body, their choice); trans rights and whatever tone deaf tweet J.K. Rowling has made that week (trans people matter), to nerds trying to convince you that Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Last Of Us Part II are the worst two pieces of media EVER created by regurgitating points they heard in a two hour video from culture war chuds. (Ha, I like both.) For music, there’s Bring Me The Horizon.
The discourse around BMTH from ‘Sempiternal‘ onward has been exhausting and cacophonous, not to any fault of the group themselves. They do whatever they want, when they want, and I deeply respect their creativity. All the while, two different demographics argue away; one who hilariously thinks their 2006 deathcore era was the peak, the other obsessively brown-nosing the band as if they’re the only notable rock or heavy act ever to evolve and change. Between smooth-brained listeners wanting the same metalcore/deathcore again, and blind fans who love everything the band does, reside people like me. People who enjoy the band’s output, but who don’t excessively hate on or sycophantically proclaim that each release is the Second Coming because it has the sole virtue of being from BMTH.
Does that make me more “objective” about covering ‘Post Human: Survival Horror‘? No, as there’s no such thing as an objective review. (This is how dull objective reviews would be.) Cutting the rigmarole, I’m split about everything regarding ‘Post Human: Survival Horror.’ For instance, I love them taking a gaming term and attributing it to the stranger-than-fiction period of history we’re currently enduring. Quite clever. But then there’s that ugly, pretentious artwork that makes my eyes roll harder than Fred Durst. I love the this EP/album/thing’s production – it’s a sonic gold mine – yet I don’t really love the actual songs, save for one. Basically, ‘Post Human: Survival Horror‘ is their boldest yet most inconsistent release.
‘Dear Diary,‘ comes speeding out of the castle gates with a high tempo, urgent double-time drumming, huge energy, and fast, low-octave riffs, under-laden with cyberpunk metallic synths that sound like BMTH are ripping and tearing demonic ass on the scorched surfaces of Hell. Then, right after the first chorus, Lee Malia drops down this sick little thrash-metal shred run and divebomb combo that comes out of nowhere. However, setting a trend for ‘Post Human: Survival Horror,’ there’s always a caveat. Oli Sykes’ deathcore screams sound rough, like he’s pushing himself too hard. (I shudder to think what they’d be like live.) While the lyrics detailing disgust and confusion when flicking through news channels and doom-scrolling are certainly timely given 2020’s events, the line “god is a shithead and we’re his rejects” is woefully cringe. Oli truly is a Nietzschean figure for our age. (/Sarcasm.)
‘Parasite Eve‘ begins with the bombastic use of a sample from the Bulgarian folk song, ‘Ergen Deda,’ and it’s a phenomenal introduction. Every time that hard-as-fuck opening happens, I’m immediately hyped! But it’s a moment that the rest of the composition fails to recapture in terms of intrigue and intensity. The songs ominous electro undercurrent and the female robotic voice announcing “we cannot save you” or “the end has arrived” are nice little additions, and I love the warning dread held within the lyric: “when we forget the infection, will we remember the lesson?“. I’m a sucker for the song’s title referencing a very cool survival-horror RPG PS1 game, and the 2010 flashbacks to ‘It Nevers Ends‘ with those “this is a war” lines. Yet ‘Parasite Eve‘ contains these throwaway heavy parts that don’t push the song anywhere meaningful. Some seem so desperate for a return-to-roots BMTH that’ll likely never fully happen, they’ll settle for a half-assed metalcore breakdown. (Same thing goes for ‘Ludens.’) Oh, and don’t get me started on this songs irritating chorus – “It’s a parasite EeEeEeEeEveeeeeee” – or the opening line “I’ve got a fever, don’t breathe on me,” which is briefly followed up by Oli sneezing, leaving me with some hardcore second-hand embarrassment.
When it comes to ‘Teardrops,’ the synths, melodies, general feel, and riffs all make for a ‘Meteora‘-era tribute to the altar of Linkin Park. The way Oli delivers “the emptiness is heavier than you think” is a chilling Chester Bennington circa 2000-2003 impersonation that’s kinda cool, and honestly, quite surreal. ‘Teardrops‘ and it’s topic of exhausted mental health, being stressed out, losing your grip, and running out of tears reminds me of what the late great frontman sung about on ‘Heavy.’ (Which was cruelly, unfairly treated despite it being a goddamn bop.) But did everyone collectively forget that BMTH already did something similar five years ago with ‘Throne‘? It’s just as on the nose now as it was back then with their obvious LP worship. It’s also hard not to feel like there’s a bias helping BMTH. That if any other band put this EP/album/thing out, people wouldn’t care or like it anywhere near as much.
Other than being the part of the release where the samey riffs and progressions getting played over and over and over become immensely tiresome, ‘Obey‘ is where we see some limp-wristed social commentary. A quote from Oli about the songs theme reads:
“We consider ourselves free… but only because the chains are invisible, and we are controlled in ways we don’t even want to think about. They tell us how to live with a smile on their face, like shit aint fucked up, inform us of tragic statistics like its nothing … it’s a weird world.”
Considering that quote along with the pizza-cutter lyrics – all edge, no point – from the perspective of the ruling elites, we get shallow in-vogue insights into the concepts of freedom, oppression, corruption and “nervous disorder.” ‘Obey‘ says what anyone with a functioning brain between their ears already knows, without posing any possible solutions. Better examples of bands addressing similar issues would be ‘Chains‘ by the criminally underrated As Cities Burn, ‘Machine Guns and Peacock Feathers‘ by Norwegian synth-pop kings, Ulver, or anything off the last two IDLES albums. For me, BMTH’s lyrics often hit the best when they’re sharing personal experiences, autobiographical anecdotes, or emotionally-charged content. That’s why I first came to like their music. Something they’ve excelled at greatly in the past; why countless people have connected with their songs over the last twelve years since ‘Suicide Season‘ made them a house-hold name.
I’m still iffy on the fact that ‘Ludens‘ was a gloried marketing tool for Sony around the release of Hideo Kojima’s nonsensical 2019 FedEx Simulator, Death Stranding. As the title of the song is named after the mascot for Kojima’s production company, was apart of the game’s soundtrack, and whose lyrics reference events, lore and characters from its laughably messy plot. (Want to witness a murder? Watch Dunkey’s review of that game.) Nonetheless, that “So come outside, it’s time to see the tide” refrain is killer, no one can deny that. Yet the rest of the song feels so harmless, so… inconsequential. Not shit, not great, just in the middle. That plain “give me a break” breakdown section has nothing to write home about, and I always laugh when the “you call this a connection?” build-up starts. Again, it’s odd that many label ‘Ludens‘ as a “heavy banger” when it doesn’t really bang nor is it that heavy.
Some may view Bring Me working with other musicians in such physically distant times as a form of unity. Music bringing us together and all that jazz. I simply see this release’s multiple collabs as them continuing their trend of creating music with artists they like or respect. This was all over ‘amo,’ which touted Dani Filth, Grimes (‘nihilist blues‘ is one of my favourite BMTH tracks) and rapper/beat-boxer Rahzel. This goes so far back as 2010 with ‘There Is A Hell…,’ which featured Lights (‘Crucify Me‘), You Me At Six’s Josh Franceschi (‘Fuck‘), and The Chariot’s Josh Scogin (‘The Fox And The Wolf.’) And then there’s this! Back to 2020, there’s five, counting the occasional production input on various songs from Australian composer and Mr. BFG Division himself, Mick Gordon.
‘1×1‘ sees BMTH teaming up with the English rock and rap duo, Nova Twins – Amy Love and Georgia South. With a very standard mainstream rock form, blending over trap percussion and some slight hip-hop elements, ‘1×1‘ is one of the less daring and more straight-forward songs on BMTH’s latest outing. One where both BMTH and Nova Twins have had a seemingly equal share of decisions. Though I don’t feel anything strongly about it one way or the other.
Acting as an overture, ‘Itch For The Cure (When Will We Be Free?)‘ – I can’t be the only one thinking that’s a Linkin Park reference? – is a short, mostly instrumental electronic piece that sets up the over-the-top ‘Kingslayer‘ nicely. ‘Kingslayer‘ being the only song I like front to back; a ridiculous tune that’s a metric shit tonne of fun. The sweet J-pop vocal melodies from Su-metal – in English and Japanese – fit BMTH’s sound well, and vice versa. This is a truly collaborative effort where both parties brought their A-game. That hammering future-bass synth in the bridge, Oli’s wicked pitched laugh in the intro, the balls-out outro section – it’s nuts and I love it. Considering the psychedelic rave style keyboardist/producer/vocalist Jordan Fish has explored, these synths and electronics complement the speedy, poppy digital-bathed metal of Babymetal superbly. ‘Kingslayer‘ wouldn’t have looked out of place on ‘Metal Galaxy.’ Just like how Mick Gordon’s sound inarguably suits them, so too does Babymetal’s.
While I’m not a fan of YUNGBLUD (outside of his earlier material), Dominic Harrison steals the show on ‘Obey‘, highlighting how average Oli can be vocally when placed next to literally any other singer. This is also true of the final song, ‘One Day The Butterflies Left Will Be In Your Chest As You March Towards Death,’ in which Evanescence’s Amy Lee surprisingly joins. Despite the memes about Evanescence, Amy is a talented, accomplished singer, and within the context of this eerie, stripped-down piano ballad that slowly morphs into an anti-climatic industrial song, she reigns supreme. I almost wish Oli wasn’t apart of it, as Amy’s soothing, melodramatic vocals sweep me away. Though I do applaud BMTH’s frontman for trying; it can be frightening for some singers when the guitars, synths and drums are all removed, having a composition live or die on their singing ability alone. So, in that sense, ‘One Day The Butterflies…‘ mostly fails to bring my interest to life.
If you skipped here to avoid the review, you’d best scoot back up if you want any proper talk of Bring Me The Horizon’s newest release. Because I’m using this final part for something else. ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’ will take up HUGE amounts of listening time from fans, haters and indifferent people alike, as well as plenty of space on music sites. (By the very nature of this review, I’m not absolved from that either.) So I wanted to end things by listing some great releases that have come out recently instead; releases that I really like and believe are much more worthy of your time:
Nothing – ‘The Great Dismal‘
Health – ‘Disco4 :: Part 1‘
Crippled Black Phoenix – ‘Ellengæst‘
Zeal & Ardor – ‘Wake Of A Nation‘
Slowly Building Weapons – ‘ECHOS‘
tricot – ‘10‘
Sordid Pink – ‘Sordid Pink‘
Greg Puciato – ‘Child Solider: Creator Of God‘
Mr. Bungle – ‘The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo‘
Thou & Emma Ruth Rundle – ‘May Our Chambers Be Full‘
- Dear Diary,
- Parasite Eve
- Obey (feat. YUNGBLUD)
- Itch For The Cure (When Will We Be Free?)
- Kingslayer (feat. Babymetal)
- 1×1 (feat. Nova Twins)
- One Day The Butterflies Left Will Be In Your Chest As You March Towards Death (feat. Amy Lee)
‘Post Human: Survival Horror’ is out now: