It’s officially been ten years since metalcore outfit Bring Me The Horizon released their third record, called – take a deep breath – There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is A Heaven Let’s Keep It A Secret. Catchy, huh?
Which also means it’s officially been ten years since I queued outside HMV with my mates to get this record signed by Oli & the gang. And what a record it was.
To this day I vividly remember watching the music video for their first single “It Never Ends” as soon as it was released. Me and the bros huddling round my laptop waiting for the YouTube video to buffer.
I came on board with Bring Me in a big way ever since their second record Suicide Season. So on first listening to “It Never Ends”, I remember feeling quite surprised and taken aback, and recall having the following conversation in my head:
‘Meh, this isn’t like suicide season.’
‘I’m not sure I like this as much.’
‘Play it again.’
‘Hmm, not too terrible actually.’
‘Just once more…’
‘Damn, this is catchy as hell!’
I’m sure I speak on behalf of the majority of BMTH fans when I say this is a conversation you have nearly every time they release a new record. There Is A Hell saw the Sheffield outing develop their sound for the third time since forming in 2004, and it certainly wasn’t going to be the last time, either.
There Is A Hell introduced us to a new side of Bring Me. Electronic elements provided largely by Sonny Moore (AKA Skrillex) and ethereal vocals from Canadian vocalist Lights. This coupled with new guitarist Jona Weinhofen’s intricate and tonal riffs yanked Bring Me out of the chaotic, often-immature metalcore style of Suicide Season and gave us a more refined, emotive and hard-hitting metal sound. There Is A Hell threw them onto bigger stages and in front of much bigger crowds.
Just as Suicide Season moved away from the intricate scale-crawling deathcore riffs of Count Your Blessings, There Is A Hell makes another gradual step towards simpler, chord-based chugs and more melodic riffs that wouldn’t sound out of place in an arena show. We also see lots of post-rock influences with clean, reverberated sections layered beneath desperate sounding vocals and tribalistic drums, as seen in “Don’t Go” and “Blessed With A Curse”. Clear examples of the band trying new things, venturing into new sonic territory and becoming much more listenable to the mainstream audience.
The record opens with the anthemic track “Crucify Me”, a song that perfectly encompasses the album as a whole. We’ve got clean guitars, synths, choirs, glitchy-electronic production, heavy breakdowns, and of course frontman Oli Sykes’ now-iconic strained screams coating it all with coarse and unrelentingly emotive lyrics.
“You say this is suicide
I say this is a war
And I’m losing the battle”
The record touches on lots of dark topics, primarily centring around mental health. A topic the band have been unafraid to breach over the years, and certainly one they have a powerful voice on, often serving as a window into Oli’s struggles with addiction and depression. This, among other things, was why this band was so universally loved within the scene. Here was a band cutting their own path in a largely saturated and generic metalcore genre, unafraid to speak (or scream) their mind and doing so in such a relatable and ‘DIY’ fashion. They never came across as elitist metal musicians, just a bunch of lads from Sheffield having a laugh and writing catchy, heavy tunes. Which is perhaps why they got a lot of ‘haters’ too, and for many “proper” metalheads at the time, this record still didn’t convince them that Bring Me deserved a seat at the table. More because of their attitude and band image than anything else. Listening to the “boos” ring around Birmingham Arena as they supported Machine Head in 2011 told me that much.
However within the emo, metalcore and “Kerrang scene” at the time, there was no bigger band than Bring Me, and no more widely-worshipped frontman than scene-king and poster boy Oli Sykes. His face will have been plastered on kids’ walls across the globe – trust me, I was one of them. In fact, I vividly recall the Kerrang cover issue where he’s wiping the tattoos off his body with a sponge, and inside there was a £10 discount code for his scene fashion brand Drop Dead. He was absolutely everywhere. And you better know I used that discount code.
His impact on this band’s success simply can’t be overstated enough; his fame outweighing the bands’ notoriety for most of their career, even since the MySpace days.
But that’s not to take anything away from their musical output, and hits like “It Never Ends” and “Blessed With a Curse” saw them reach their highest album chart position yet, coming in at #13, beating their previous record of #47. An achievement they’ve continually bettered since then.
I find myself listening to this record from time to time and wishing for the ‘old BMTH’ back (I absolutely love all of their stuff, don’t worry), just like you see so many fans commenting on social media. For me, this album has some of their heaviest tunes – “Anthem”, “Alligator Blood” and “Visions” – and you can’t help but crave this sound back sometimes. But with a band like Bring Me, you’re never going to get the ‘old’ sound back – that’s just not what they do. You know that with each release they’ll bring something new to the audible table. As long as they keep experimenting, breaking boundaries and venturing into new territory, just like they did with There Is A Hell, then they will continue to be one of the biggest metal bands around.
Article by Dan Pearson