With their new album That’s The Spirit leveling the music charts 18 months after release and cementing the band as worldwide superstars, it’s interesting to think what Bring Me The Horizon started as – a band that was playing death-metal influenced metalcore. It’s also interesting to think of the radical transition they’ve undergone – becoming one of the bigger rock bands in the world. But how did the band get there? It didn’t happen overnight. This is a quick overview on where the band came from, how they developed a fanbase, and how they reached the mainstream.
Part 1: Traitors Never Play Hangman
For a band that got their name from a line in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Bring Me The Horizon have come a long way. 13 years after their inception, the band started out playing a far different kind of music than what they do now. One need only listen to “Pray For Plagues”, the main single off 2006 debut album Count Your Blessings, to notice the metalcore/death metal hybrid the band was playing at the time. Obviously Count Your Blessings was not the greatest album, but it was an important stepping stone to what the band would later become.
Part II: The Comedown
2008’s Suicide Season was really the band’s breakout album, commercially, if not as much critically. You could really feel the band start to find their sound, abandoning their deathcore influences for a much more streamlined (and breakdown-centric) metalcore sound that dozens of bands would attempt to copy in its immediate aftermath. The fairly typical sound, though, was experimented and toyed with – tracks like “The Sadness Will Never End” hinted at the accessibility (and better songwriting) the band would later accomplish and explore. Even single “Chelsea Smile” showed restraint and a “push/pull” ability in its 5 minute runtime, which would be an integral part of future releases.
Part III: Alligator Blood
There was a real sea change on 2010’s There Is A Hell…. No longer (for the most part) was the band playing breakdown-heavy metalcore. Instead, the band took bold steps like the 6 minute album opener “Crucify Me”, and the almost post-rockish “Blessed With A Curse”. The latter was certainly the band’s boldest step to date, and solidified BMTH as a band that could pack huge crowds in their native Britain – and beyond. And then you have singles like “It Never Ends” that are miles beyond what the band had done previously.
What’s odd is that even on the tracks that reminded listeners of Suicide Season, the band was still able to pack in powerful, melodic choruses (“Visions”, especially) that gained the band more fame. And the band was clearly still angry enough – “Blacklist” is one of the most vicious songs the band ever put to tape. It’s then followed up by the tranquil “Memorial”/”Blessed With A Curse” combo back to back, which really highlights the dichotomy of music Bring Me The Horizon was putting together. 3 years later, it would all come to a head…
Part IV: Middle Fingers Up…
2013’s Sempiternal set Bring Me The Horizon into motion as a metalcore/alternative metal hybrid that could pack arenas and festivals outright. From the electronic synthesized intro of “Can You Feel My Heart”, you know the band has abandoned most of their core sound, but in a way that makes sense. Massive electronic and pop hooks collide with a more alt-metal outlook on the metalcore they used to play previously, but with stadium-sized ambition.
Perhaps it was the addition of keyboardist Jordan Fish that had the biggest impact on the band. His influence was all over the album, and it’s the expansion of these ideas on “Can You Feel My Heart” and especially album closer “Hospital For Souls” that makes Sempiternal BMTH’s best album to date. The latter is honestly one of the best tracks, if not the best track, the band has ever put to tape. It’s an almost 7 minute long song that’s also criminally underrated. Not a second of it is wasted, and it’s when Bring Me The Horizon continue to build up and up and up until the whole song comes crashing down, that they are at peak performance. Case in point – the fantastic track “And The Snakes Start To Sing”.
It’s quite likely Sempiternal will go down as the band’s best album. It created a firestorm when teasers for the massive “Shadow Moses” were released this time 4 years ago, and it also (again) started a wave of scene imitators that are still trying to mimic (mostly unsuccessfully) the album’s overall line between heaviness and pop songwriting. The band would again shift gears, however…
Part V: Drown/Doomed
When “Drown” was released as a single in 2014, fans were admittedly a bit confused (despite its successful release overall) – were BMTH going full on pop-rock? On 2015’s That’s The Spirit, not quite. But almost all screaming was absent from the album, instead trading it for alternative rock tunes that weren’t heavy, but were (and are) all over the radio.
It’s not the band’s greatest work. But it is the band’s most accessible and likely appealing one to date. Primary singles “Throne” and “Happy Song” are decent enough crossover hits, while tracks like “Avalanche” and “Doomed” are the primary linchpins to bridge the gap between TTS and Sempiternal. Most of the album is reminiscent of Linkin Park’s Meteora, or maybe Living Things, with its emphasis on catchy electronic rock. Clearly, it’s working – have you seen the kinds of venues BMTH is playing on their upcoming American Nightmare tour?
Where will Bring Me The Horizon go from here? Only time will tell. But the band’s evolution, like them or not, has certainly been an interesting one. When members of Korn say that your band is “the future of rock music”, fans should be paying attention.