More than just the origin of the SANDPIT TURTLE memes, Bring Me The Horizon’s Sempiternal made a lasting mark on modern rock and metalcore upon its release in 2013. Much like the band has done with their more recent material in terms of not being afraid to switch things up stylistically, Sempiternal marked a sea change for BMTH. Predictably, the album – armed with some of the band’s biggest singles like “Shadow Moses” and “Sleepwalking” – did indeed launch the band into the stratosphere. The album even went Gold in the USA, which is tough to do in the modern era. How did it happen, though?
Following up their 2010 album There Is A Hell… was always going to be a tough task for Bring Me The Horizon, who boldly experimented with electronics on that album. Songs like “Don’t Go” and “Crucify Me” (both of which featured Lights) relied heavily on electronic soundscapes to propel the song forward, and they hinted at what was to come on Sempiternal.
Newcomer Jordan Fish was also an essential part of this record, fleshing out the band’s sound with electronic soundscapes that were key to the album’s success. Right out of the gate, they’re apparent in the bright melodies of “Can You Feel My Heart”, dominating the proceedings throughout. However, Fish’s electronic work is more subtle (and just as effective) on tracks like “Empire (Let Them Sing)”, where they’re merely a part of the song alongside chugging guitars and Oliver Sykes’ vocals – which also showed serious improvement.
Not content to just write breakdown after breakdown, songs like album highlight “Hospital For Souls” really show the band’s growth in just one album cycle. Elements of post-rock even manage to creep in to the almost 7 minute runtime here, which is awfully impressive considering many bands who utilize such risk-taking approaches often fail to deliver. This song, in particular, is where the band’s ambition and Jordan Fish’s electronic soundscapes work so well. In fact, it’s a strong contender for the band’s best overall song, if not close to it.
Even when the band reverts to their old habits, the results are pretty great. Specifically on “The House Of Wolves” and “Crooked Young”, which wouldn’t sound out of place on their previous two records, the band injects catchy choruses into some fairly standard metalcore fare. Production-wise, it’s one of Terry Date’s greatest achievements, and with a full and clear sound that’s not too polished, it’s not a surprise many feel this is where Bring Me The Horizon transformed into a different band.
Where Sempiternal shows off its influence the most is how it influenced other bands in the scene to follow BMTH’s lead. Particularly Of Mice & Men’s 2014 album Restoring Force, where the band followed up a sophomore album with a more streamlined sound that borrowed from nu-metal.
Sempiternal really was worthy of the hype that surrounded it upon its 2013 release. Injecting more electronic elements as well as post-rock influences and even pop, it was yet another time that Bring Me The Horizon fearlessly expanded their sonic palettes into something that would influence many bands who had already established themselves in the scene – and plenty yet to come.