Bring Me The Horizon (BMTH) are one of the most successful and polarizing modern rock/metal bands. Hailing from Sheffield, England, the group has changed and evolved their sound with each new album.
This year, they returned with "amo,” another change in sound, this time more pop-y and even more mellow, accentuating Fish’s keyboards and bringing in guest vocalists. From my first listen, "amo" certainly has some of BMTH’s best songs, but it also contains some absolute clunkers.
Our first hint that something is astray comes from the intro track "i apologise if you feel something," with a weak keyboard lead pulsing on and off. This odd and slow opener thankfully cascades into the album’s standout tune, “MANTRA.” Featuring crunchy riffs, an insanely catchy chorus, thundering drums, and Fish’s impeccable keyboard skills, the song sees frontman Sykes compare being in love to being in a cult. The ends of the first and last choruses, when a disembodied voice plainly says “mantra” followed by a massive crash back into the main riff are pure metal goodness.
“wonderful life” is possibly the heaviest song on "amo". An ironically-named tribute to a problematic and troubled life, the song contains snarky lyrics such as “looked on the bright side, got keratitis”. The chorus is fun to sing and the guitar riffs are simply bruising. Cradle of Filth frontman Dani Filth lends his raspy vocals to the third verse, which climaxes with a bouncy breakdown. The spiteful “sugar honey ice and tea” has an earworm-y pre-chorus and timely lyrics about world chaos.
For all the goodness and unique songwriting "amo" contains, the album is far from perfect. This record falls short of almost all the band’s previous releases, with a handful of lackluster tracks souring an otherwise delightful album. The song "why you gotta kick me when i'm down?" is slow and dull, and features Sykes rapping during the verses and making strange noises at certain points. Closing track "i don't know what to say" is utterly boring and instantly forgettable. During my initial listen, I actually went back to the middle of this song because I thought I missed something, only to find the same sluggish keyboard lead and barely-mustered vocals. Lastly, the tepid interlude track “fresh bruises” is overly-ambient and monotonous, with the vocals almost completely drowned out in the drab cacophony. These musical messes are stuffed in the back half of the album, making it severely inferior to the first half.
Overall, though, "amo" is in no way a bad album. It contains some of BMTH’s best songs, and it can only bolster the band’s popularity and help them reach new fans. While their metallic past was almost shed on this record, they still maintain the energy and raucousness the genre demands, despite some major sound shifts and a handful of what are easily their worst songs. While nowhere near the towering heights of their previous work, "amo" still shows that Bring Me The Horizon are still producing (mostly) quality rock tunes that pack stadiums.
As Sykes proclaims on the album’s penultimate track, “it ain’t heavy metal and that’s all right, that’s all right.” Much like "amo" itself as a whole.