bring me the horizon: that's the spirit review
This week's album review is in regards to a band who got their name from the final line said in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Formed in 2004, the members of Bring Me the Horizon came from different musical backgrounds. Drummer Matt Nicholls and vocalist Oliver Sykes were very much inspired by the American metalcore scene while lead guitarist Lee Malia deeply loved thrash metal. So much so, Malia was involved in a Metallica cover band before joining BMTH. Still teenagers at the time, Sykes, Nichols and Myles recruited rhythm guitarist Curtis Ward and bassist Matt Kean for the band. Thus, Bring Me the Horizon was formed in 2004.
Not long after the band was solidified, BMTH's first recorded material was a demo titled "Bedroom Sessions" which was soon followed by the band's first EP in October "This Is What the Edge of Your Seat Was Made For". The EP caught the attention of local UK label Thirty Days of Night and signed them as their first artists. In 2005 the label re-released the EP that caught their attention. The re-release caught the attention of music listeners and won them the Best British Newcomer award at the 2006 Kerrang! Awards.
Bring Me the Horizon were beginning to make a name for themselves, and sometimes it wasn't a good name to be associated with. The band began touring by tricking their way into tour slots with a few of the band mate's mothers being their managers on a count of them still being underage at the time. Their early shows around this time were notorious on a count of the band performing under the influence of alcohol, vomiting on stage and destroying their equipment.
Despite the name they were making for themselves early on in their career, BMTH released their debut full length album "Count Your Blessings" in October of 2006 in the UK followed by an August 2007 release in the United States. The recording sessions were noted to be unproductive and infamous for the band's continuous alcohol consumption. Because of this and the songs that were recorded, "Count Your Blessings" proved to be a commercial and critical failure. In support of their debut album, they toured the UK opening for metalcore band Killswitch Engage. Bring Me the Horizon's performances were noted to be poorly received by audiences. Word around the scene at the time noted the audience would throw bottles at the band before, during, and even after their set.
After the tumultous recording and touring period in support of "Count Your Blessings", the band began recording their follow-up record in 2008. Aiming to not only create better music, they aimed to change the style of their songs. Initially being considered a "deathcore" by critics and fans, the band opted to experiment with a more eclectic metalcore-related sound. The album, titled "Suicide Season" was released in September of 2008. The album was considerably well received in comparison to their debut album. Regardless, music critics were mixed on the change of sound and lyrical content. Fans of the band though stood by "Suicide Season" as being a welcomed change of sound from a band with the potential to make great music. "Suicide Season" also marked last album appearance of rhythm guitarist Curtis Ward who left the band during one of their tours for many internal reasons, mainly due to the worsening of the tinnitus in one of his ears (a hearing condition in one ear or both for those who don't know). Ward was replaced by the band's guitar tech for the remainder of the tour.
While Ward's issues were becoming more of a hindrance for the band as well as Ward himself, the band were beginning to tour the United States and beginning to build a wider fan base. Not long after their tour obligations were finished, the band convinced Bleeding Through (and former member of I Killed the Prom Queen) guitarist Jona Weinhofen to join the band on a permanent basis in place of Ward's departure.
2010 saw the release of the band's third album "There Is a Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let's Keep It a Secret." The new album further incorporated different styles of music into their metalcore sound, including electronics, choirs, clean vocal singing, and symphonic sounds. BMTH was beginning to progress more as a collective unit with tight music structure and more mature lyrical content. "There Is a Hell" was well received by critics and fans alike and also was ranked by Rock Sound Magazine as their Number 1 album of 2010.
Once again, the band went on an extensive touring schedule to promote the new album. The days of being intoxicated on stage are long gone as the band greatly improved their live performance. On an off-day in 2011, drummer Matt Nicholls broke his arm playing football. While recovering, fellow tour mate from the band Architects, drummer Dan Searle filled in for the remainder of their tour schedule.
Cut to the end of 2011. Bring Me the Horizon finished their touring obligations, Matt Nicholls' broken arm is healed . During this time, the band were having issues with their label at the time "Visible Noise" due to lack of resources on the label's end and lack of the ability to get the band further recognized on a global scale. Because of these issues, BMTH left the label and signed with RCA Records to distribute their future material worldwide while Epitaph Records would continue to release their music in the United States and Canada.
For their fourth album, Bring Me the Horizon isolated themselves to focus solely on creating the greatest album they could make. Recording began in July 2012 and was completed in September. A few months after recording, rhythm guitarist Jona Weinhofen left the band due to internal conflicts with the band members. Not long after leaving, Weinhofen began a tirade of social media rants claiming he wrote the majority of the riffs on the new album and that he wasn't getting the credit he deserves. Vocalist Oliver Sykes vehemently denied Weinhofen's statements and was given no credit for any contribution to the album. To this day, whether Weinhofen contributed anything is only known to those involved.
On April 1, 2013, "Sempiternal" was released to critical acclaim and universal fan approval. The album debuted at #11 on the Billboard 200 charts, the highest chart release for the band to date. "Sempiternal" also introduced a new member to the band, keyboardist Jordan Fish. The album stands as a landmark release in the band's catalog. Further incorporating different music elements and progressing their sound alongside Oli's deeply introspective and personal lyrics, they landed on many music magazine's "best of the year" record lists.
Following the release of "Sempiternal", the band began playing bigger venues as well as becoming incredibly better live musicians in comparison to their beginnings. BMTH played multiple US tours with the likes of Chiodos, Of Mice & Men, Motionless in White and A Day to Remember to name a few as well as touring internationally, further building their fan base. On December 5, 2014, BMTH played their largest show yet at London's 12,500 capacity venue Wembley Arena. Late 2014 also saw the tease of the next chapter of Bring Me the Horizon with the release of the single "Drown". Incorporating more singing from vocalist Oliver Sykes instead of screaming, fans (including myself) knew to be prepared for the unexpected.
Fast forward to 2015. Bring Me the Horizon, the band once known for vomiting on stage, is at the top of their game. The band left Epitaph Records and signed with Columbia Records. BMTH are determined to let the world know this is who they are and that they better remember that. Their fifth album "That's the Spirit" is Bring Me the Horizon on a level that far surpasses their previous releases. Based on a loose concept of depression and making the best of it, this album demands your attention on all fronts. The band has never sounded better, nor has it sounded so tight knit. This is the band that fans knew they always had the potential to be. Oliver Sykes' vocals and lyrics take center stage and drive this album. Sykes' singing ability is catchy and beautiful with a hint of aggression behind that beauty. "That's the Spirit" is an album Oliver felt was worth singing about compared to screaming.
The album begins with "Doomed". It starts off unexpectedly with moans over a smooth beat but soon Oli's vocals come into play and progress to the full band backing him to make for one hell of an opening track. "Happy Song" is one that will grow on you. The lyrics seem campy at first, but after a few listens you'll find yourself signing right along to it. "Throne" is a force to be reckoned with. I can imagine hearing arenas full of fans singing and screaming the lyrics back to the band so loud that the Earth might just move off it's axis. The album's closing song "Oh No" is unique in the form of it's structure, lyrics, and of all things a SAXOPHONE to fade the song out and end the musical journey that Bring Me the Horizon put you on.
In their 11 years as a band, Bring Me the Horizon have transformed from deathcore teenagers to a force that's not to be taken lightly. Their music and determination to let the world know "we are Bring Me the Horizon" might very well have that horizon in their grasps with "That's the Spirit".