Bring Me The Horizon
That’s The Spirit
If you’re going to reinvent yourself, you may as well go all in. When Bring Me The Horizon added keyboard player and studio whiz Jordan Fish to their ranks in 2012, they abandoned deathcore for a more immediate, synth-based sound on 2013’s Sempiternal. It was the first step in a process that has culminated in the breathtaking That’s The Spirit. Ambitious, grand, emotional and complex, it’s a record that demands the band be seen in a new light.
Written in the dreary winter of the band’s hometown of Sheffield, U.K., and recorded in the bright Mediterranean summer paradise of Santorini in Greece (with Fish handling production), it’s an LP that blends pessimism with optimism. While singer Oli Sykes broods, rages and sighs–his lyrics touching on his former addictions (“Oh No”), disloyalty (“True Friends”), and the perilous state of the world–he does so over music equal parts heavy and hopeful. The ambient, dubby squelches of “Doomed” create nervous tension, with Sykes’ vocals cycling uneasily. Then, quite from nowhere, he finds a gorgeous melody, hitting a sweet-spot falsetto that tingles the spine. It’s such a poignant moment that it takes a while to realize he’s telling us we’re all fucked. The track tees up an album hinging on that counterpoint between despair and belief. “Let’s all sing along a little goddamn louder to a happy song and pretend it’s all okay,” Sykes sings on the brilliant “Happy Song,” with guitars exploding all around, only making the suggestion more appealing.
There are moments when BMTH reach for the mainstream so easily it’s hard to remember their metalcore roots. “Throne” is reminiscent of Linkin Park, a dubstep update on Meteora with Sykes in defiant Chester Bennington mode. “Follow You” is an emotional ballad littered with skittering electronics; “What You Need” is an out-and-out rock song that frees them from genre niches, while “Run” is another standout in the Linkin Park vein, its chorus riding a wave of wistful ecstasy. “Avalanche” is melancholy, epic and uplifting all at once: “I feel like suicide,” Sykes sings, but the swelling synths behind him seem to say, “Oh, cheer up.” In fact, that’s the message of the whole album: Everything’s screwed, but what are you going to do about it?
While Fish’s keyboards shape the sound, the guitars are still vital. Lee Malia is less technical yet more integral than ever before, finding roiling riffs that fuel the album’s engine. He underpins Sykes’ anger while Fish’s synths offer a euphoric contrast. It’s in this blend of opposing forces that That’s The Spirit finds its emotional depth, making it both immediately accessible and addictively complex. It deserves to be the making of the band.