Bring Me the Horizon on Ditching Metalcore for Poppy, Positive New LP
Bring Me the Horizon have changed a lot over the years, but never like this. When they formed in 2003, the band played thrashy, breakdown-studded songs influenced by the screaming, slashing sound of American metalcore. Gradually, the Sheffield, England, group began incorporating electronic passages, acoustic strumming, ominous keyboards and orchestral elements into their music, and the band became all the more popular for it. Yet, despite their experimentation, Bring Me the Horizon remained undeniably rooted in metal – until now.
The band’s fifth album, That’s the Spirit (out September 11th), sounds more Muse and Linkin Park than Metallica and Lamb of God. Vocalist Oli Sykes sings on most of it instead of shouting as in the past, and the band follows suit with a layered, textural sound full of ebb-and-flow dynamics inspired by indie rock, alternative music and pop.
While Bring Me the Horizon have already released two tracks from That’s the Spirit, “Drown” and “Happy Song,” the first official single is “Throne,” which the band unveiled today. (You can hear the song and watch its video below.) Upbeat, melodic and loud without being aggressive, the track succinctly captures the essence of the entire album.
“We don’t listen to extreme deathcore anymore,” keyboardist and primary songwriter Jordan Fish explains of the shift in direction. “We still like some heavy music, but I also like Justin Bieber. My wife told me the other day I have the music taste of a teenage girl.”
In part, the evolution from artsy metalcore to cinematic pop rock marks a desire to establish a larger, more mainstream following. At the same time, Bring Me the Horizon aren’t the same furious youngsters they were when they wrote albums like 2008’s Suicide Season. “We don’t want to carry on and pretend we’re still full of angst,” Fish says. “I think people would see right through that.”
“Throne” reflects the group’s current state of mind, both musically and emotionally. “It’s one of the most simple and straightforward songs we did,” Fish says. “It’s got some elements we had on the last album [2013’s Sempiternal], with an up-tempo rhythm and really strong melodies. So it seemed like an obvious choice for the first single because it’s so immediately catchy and has such a good level of energy.”
Like many Bring Me the Horizon tunes, “Throne” is about overcoming adversity: “You can throw me to the wolves/Tomorrow I will come back leader of the whole pack/Beat me black and blue/Every wound will shape me/Every scar will build my throne.”
An even more prevalent theme on That’s the Spirit is the burden of melancholy; as Fish explains, even when life is going well, there’s sometimes a nagging sadness that’s hard to shake. “I think most people have that,” he says. “It’s a slightly incomplete feeling that’s always there, and that comes from real life. Everyone has their own issues and anxieties, and mostly the new songs are about accepting them and trying to remain positive because there’s nothing else you can do.”
Bring Me the Horizon have more reason to feel a little overwhelmed than most. For the band, the past couple years have been a whirlwind of adaption and transformation. Before the group started working on the wildly eclectic Sempiternal – the band’s first album to feature Fish – Sykes was addicted to the mind-altering drug ketamine, most commonly used to tranquilize animals. He went to rehab for treatment and emerged ready to tell his story of abuse and survival. In contrast, on That’s the Spirit, Sykes wrote about what it’s like to live life when he’s not burying his emotions in a drug-induced haze.