Bring Me the Horizon – Sempiternal Review

Posted on April 30, 2013

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Bring Me the Horizon achieved raging success in 2010 with third album ‘There is a Hell Believe Me I’ve seen It. There is a Heaven, Let’s Keep it a Secret’ and they have continued to step up their game in fourth album ‘Sempiternal’. The Sheffield quintet formed in 2004 and have faced a battle of people either loving them or really hating them. A lot of the antagonism stems towards front man, Oli Sykes, who has received constant criticism for his anti-social antics (urinating on a fan at a gig). It seems the band’s last two albums have been his way of redemption. With brutally honest theological rebellion from ‘Anti-visit’ to slow melodic expressions of self-pity from ‘And the Snakes Start to Sing’ a lot of different emotions and opinions are shouted or delicately sung to their audience.

‘And the snakes start to sing’ is one of the most heart-felt songs on the album which starts off with Oli singing clean vocals. No track in any of their previous albums has exposed Oli’s voice in such a raw way which gives this number a real element of surprise. This track radiates passion and pain, with lyrics that emit worthlessness and insignificance – ‘I’m just a would’ve been, could’ve been, should’ve been, never was and never ever will be’. The whole track is a slow telling of self-pity with the end being the first time Sykes properly screams. The breakdown is a loud flood of emotion, from the soaring guitars to the choir singers to the passionate screams.

The personal life of Sykes has weaved itself into this album. Expressions of monophobia has become a new lyrical theme which is seen most clearly in the last minute of ‘Can you feel my heart’. Sykes gently sings ‘I’m scared to get close and I hate being alone, I long for that feeling to not feel at all’ over the sound of melancholy guitar chords (similar to the breakdown in track ‘Fuck’ in their previous album). These powerful lyrics portray Sykes in an unexpected state of vulnerability which is not something his coarse public behaviour complies with. Although there are clear references to distress and troublesome subjects, Sykes has stated in an interview with Rocksound that he is not prepared to explain any of the stories or connotations presented in the music. He explained that ‘I wrote that stuff on the record because that’s where I want it to be. I don’t want to personally talk about it to another person.’ This gives the album more appeal because you can only dabble in simple speculation for meanings and interpretation.

There are a couple of songs on this album which reflect an inkling of the angry, gritty and controversially opinionated music previously written by Bring Me the Horizon. One of these tracks is ‘The house of wolves’ – a clear rebellion against religion, with a hint of blasphemy. It begins with fast past, consistent drums with lyrics screaming ‘Show me a sign, show me a reason to give a solitary fuck about your god damn beliefs.’ The chorus calls for their listeners to sing along as voices join Sykes. The additional voices in the chorus give off the idea that his beliefs against religion are supported by a large following of people. The breakdown of the track has dark, heavy guitars with morbid lyrics screamed by Oli ‘And when you die, the only kingdom you’ll see—is two-foot wide and six foot deep!’

Another heavy track which ditches the sentimental cry of emotions is ‘Anti-visit’, which very much screams in the face of those who don’t practice what they preach. It starts with loud, deep guitar riffs, while Sykes screams profane sentences – the words, ‘fuck,’ ‘prick’ and ‘cunt’ are not scarce throughout this song. It’s a very explosive, opinionated song about people preaching diplomatically to make the world right. Sykes screams words that say force and violence is the only way to bring about change – ‘there will be no peaceful revolution. No war without blood.’ The lyrics are pessimistic with ‘united we’ll fail, divided we’ll fail, we’re fucked, but you’re making it worse.’

After this short aggressive outburst, Bring Me the Horizon finish off the album with more self-deprecation. ‘Hospital for souls’ shows off Sykes’ singing voice once again. The first minute of the track is Oli talking about how and why he decided to change whilst ghostly sounds echo in the background. He explains to his fans that he was in a dark place – ‘even hell can get comfy once you’ve settled in.’ Loud guitars come in along with the wail of synth. The verses are soft and melodic with the strum of light guitar and soft drum beats. Sykes starts to scream in the chorus, whilst the high-pitched synth and guitar replicate his inner cry for help that diffuse from the lyrics ‘throw me to the flames, watch me burn.’ The song slows down at 4 minutes and strips everything down to nothing but occasional gentle vocals and the soft beating of a drum which replicates a weak heartbeat. Oli switches back to clean vocals singing repeatedly ‘hold me close, don’t let go, watch me burn. In this hospital for souls’.

‘Sempiternal’ is no doubt a lot different from their first two albums which contained explicit lyrics and soul crippling hatred but they have traded in the heavier sounds for softer, more electronic ones. The whole album is just a beating of the self from Oli Sykes. The album lacks the angry hatefulness that possessed the whole bands aura but the emotions which have taken place of that bitterness are no less felt. The sentiment is there so deeply it almost carries its own presence. It has become evident that maybe the lads in the band have realised that sentiment and emotion isn’t such a bad thing after all. The timeline of their albums can be easily analogous to a boy turning from adolescence to adulthood – although maybe a boy with a few self-esteem issues…

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Posted in: Bands, Metal, Music, Review