Change is necessary, and change allows progression. Who would have thought that a band labeled with scene kid cliché after cliché would have (naturally, I might add) progressed in to the band they were always meant to be? Rather than be forced in to any such turn of events, Bring Me the Horizon made the proverbial “fuck you” statement to all critics who honestly believed they weren’t destined for anything else other than the flash in the pan success bracket rivaling that of a contestant off of the X-Factor or American Idol. They weren’t supposed to turn into this, but they did – and completely on their own accord. BMTH deserve every bit of praise they are going to receive for this record, and that’s the change that no one was expecting.
Deathcore elitists will hate this record, as well as anyone who still has a “Get On Your Knees” graphic t-shirt from Asking Alexandria in their closest next to their chest of multi-colored bracelets. Sempiternal is the rock and roll enlightenment of a record they needed to make. Diving into it, isn’t the tried-and-true formula of a metal record to start off with their best and heaviest material first? Maybe not always, but BMTH surely didn’t fall prey to that formula either. “Can You Feel My Heart” couldn’t have served as a better opener to the record, with Oli Sykes’ cathartic vocals taking their music to a height no one could have foreshadowed. The scratchy and raspy tune of his singing style is still just as prevalent as on their previous record, but now his singing includes a very subtle and dead-on approach that rivals all others in the genre. His screaming is still ballistic and raw, and it works so well. If there is one pinpoint of change that takes it to the next level, it’s this. Musically, it all works. It all shreds, and it all hits so hard. There’s no other way to put it.
I classify BMTH as more of a rock and roll band now, because to much “dismay” they toned down the amount of metal that shows up (not that they really needed it, but it offers lots of contrast). Don’t think they’ve softened though. Where there isn’t metal, there’s plenty of gigantic choruses and progressive melodies to go around, like in the beat-down of “Empire (Let Them Sing)” or the introspective nature of “Sleepwalking.” Lyrically, it’s in the same arena as previous records: plenty pissed off but still very emotionally charged like in the two absolutely perfect tracks “And the Snakes Start to Sing” and “Seen It All Before.” These two songs alone are easily some of BMTH’s best work of their entire career, although realistically nearly all of these songs are. If there’s anything you need to convince you they’ve made the right choice musically, listen to these two together in sequence, as they work together that way.
Still, there are plenty of mosh-worthy numbers to go around; “The House of Wolves” is rousing and brilliant, blending destruction and melancholy perfectly. “Antivist,” “Crooked Young” and “Shadow Moses” are straightforward but get the point across like they need to. It all comes together in a way that contrasts perfectly, like black and white. Even the record’s direction from an artistic standpoint works, from the artwork to the titles and overall theme. One particularly noble quirk is the definition of the word “sempiternal” in relation to the record; meaning “eternal and unchanging, everlasting,” Bring Me the Horizon have created a sound that for them is indefinitely timeless. This is the record they needed to create.
I gave this record so many spins before I truly understood the gravity of what I was hearing. As Sempiternal closes with “Hospital For Souls,” Sykes’ painstaking scream rides out over one of the most soaring and beautiful choruses of their career, and it all climaxes together into one honest thought. You know when musicians pour their soul into their music, and ladies and gentlemen they have done it. To describe their music as sempiternal would be accurate, because the chills I get down my spine are. Even if Bring Me the Horizon quit now, this would be their magnum opus. To reach this point, change is necessary, and change requires progression. Timeless. “This is Sempiternal.”