Words/ Edited By: Alexia Kapralos
Release Date: September 11, 2015, via RCA
English band Bring Me The Horizon has completely abandoned their metal sound in favour for a top-forty friendly rock sound with their fifth full-length studio release containing 11 songs, That’s The Spirit. Ever since they released their song “Drown” as a single last year (which is also included on this album), it’s been made clear to their fans that they’re evolving and changing their sound. Well, there’s a saying from The Dark Knight (yes that’s a Batman reference) that applies to this album in this writer’s humble opinion that goes like this: you either die the hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.
There have been rumours circulating for years that frontman Oliver Sykes has permanent vocal chord damage, affecting the type and range of vocal styles he can use; this has resulted in much softer music in contrast to their original deathcore roots. Going back to that Dark Knight quote, the band clearly should’ve died out while their music was still 100 per cent, rather than continuing to produce sub-par music as heard with That’s The Spirit, if these rumours are true.
This album contains synthesizers and dance/techno beats at a lot of the beginning of the songs. It’s as if most songs were created with a single formula: start off with techno beats, move onto synthesizer sounds, hit a bit of a rock sound in the chorus, back to synthesizer, and end. The negative is that most of the songs begin to sound similar listening to the album beginning to end. But the positive is that it makes for a cohesive sound on the record.
Their previous album, Sempiternal, proved to be their peak, earning them gold certification and a number one spot on the Australian Albums Chart. It contained the heaviness and passion of their older works, still with a change in direction. In contrast, it seems unlikely that this one will win the hearts of their older fans who crave their heavier sound since That’s The Spirit sounds like it was created by a totally different band. Not to say that this album is absolute garbage; Sykes’ has a wonderful singing voice that’s soothing to the ear and there are a few catchy tunes, which will be highlighted shortly. Also it’s achieving success within the mainstream media and getting playtime on BBC radio.
The album kicks off with “Doomed.” At first I was caught off guard by this introductory song; I wasn’t sure if I opened the right file when I initially clicked to play the song because it sounded extremely techno and full of bass initially. Once I got into the song more, I finally heard the comforting sounds of Sykes voice and knew I was listening to the right song. It is unprecedented for Bring Me The Horizon to use this sound so heavily in their music thus far, so the initial surprise was lovely (lovely until this tactic and sound became far too overused on this album).
Although I’m not particularly thrilled with “Happy Song” because of it’s insanely cheesy lyrics, it is a single off the album after all, and should be mentioned. “But if I sing along/A little f*****g louder/To a happy song I’ll be alright” – it sounds like a Disney song gone bad. Make no mistake, Sykes doesn’t sound too happy singing this either. At least this song contains more of an edgy rock sound, which others off the album lack as they lean more toward pop-rock at times.
Another highlight off this release is definitely “Throne.” This song was the third single off this album after “Drown” and “Happy Song.” It’s infectiously catchy, which is probably why the band selected this song film a music video for it this year (aside from “Drown,” which was released in 2014). Picturing the vivid visuals of the video in my mind helped me love this song even more because it’d roll in my head like my own personal music video cinema, even without any video presented physically.
“Follow You” stood out too since it contained a bass-y hip-hop influenced beat as an introduction to the song. This is the most unique song on the album because of that; no other song has that urban flair on this album, or on any Bring Me The Horizon album at all. This new territory was successfully treaded on; it fit in well with the song and didn’t seem out of place.
Then of course, there is “Drown.” This song actually came out in 2014 as a single, but the band added onto this full-length. It serves as fans’s initial introduction to the band’s new musical route that will be taken at this point in time. It contains no distorted vocals, breakdowns, or guitar solos. It makes sense why BBC radio plays this because it sounds like most top 40 rock songs; it’s like Nickelback, but a little bit heavier. This song is pretty good in itself, but not something a listener is looking for when scrolling through their music library to Bring Me The Horizon.
All in all, this album is probably the band’s weakest in sound and in enjoyment level for this writer. However, its singles do seem to be receiving a fair amount of mainstream success in the UK, which is wonderful for them. If you’ve never listened to Bring Me The Horizon before and want a safe, no-risk rock album, this is the album for you. If you’re looking for something reminiscent to any previous releases of the band, you’re S.O.L