When talking in reference to music and the evolution of bands and their material, there are often two sides to the argument. There are fans who are not as receptive to the eventual growth that such a band may exhibit and there are those who bend to make up whatever DNA has been altered by time and experiences. As an avid listener of Bring Me The Horizon, every subsequent release has been an evolution however minuscule the arrangements have been. 2013’s Sempiternal showed an uptick in the band’s songwriting and maturity. That’s The Spirit is not only a confident and bold reclamation of that foundation, but also opens a new dimension that will no doubt prolong the career of the once heralded “metalcore” band.
Opening track “Doomed” is a brooding, dark track that builds up with synths and programmed percussion that sounds like stones echoing over a hollow surface. Throughout the buildup of the song, you will notice that each of the instruments neatly fit together, calculated and interesting. Lead singer Oliver Sykes uses his clean vocals in a unique way as they have noticeably gotten better in the two-year period between albums. When Sykes echoes, “so come rain on my parade/cause I want to feel it”, you can feel the desperation and sadness within every single word. You don’t have to be overly aggressive to convey an emotion and the roughness of Sykes’ voice is enough to stand in for the screams of his previous songs.
“Throne” is a full utilization of programmer/producer Jordan Fish as the song leads with a Linkin Park-like keyboard sample that leads into the crash of guitar, percussion, and gang vocals. Guitarist Lee Malia, drummer Matt Nicholls, and bassist Matt Kean are still able to make their presence felt within the electronic web that is within the album. The addition of Fish to the band has come full circle where, in previous albums, there would be electro glitches to add effect. The programming adds an insatiable element to the music here at its full potential. The song itself is a bold declaration of overcoming past struggles, and it’s good to see Sykes come out on top given all of his own. At first listen, many would listen to “Happy Song”, the first song given from the project, and think that the band would not be able to return to the heaviness that fans were enamored with. “Blasphemy” comes in towards the end of the album with low-tuned guitars that proves that the band can still be confrontational and heavy. A little guitar solo within the bridge by Malia is a welcomed wrinkle to hear.
Probably the most impressive instances that show the band’s continued evolution are the tracks “Follow You” and “What You Need”. “Follow You” is a softer song that would probably make previous fans do a quick double take at first listen. A borderline hip-hop clap sequence with softer guitar sets the stage for a personal plea from Sykes which is a love song to his wife. “What You Need” is the perfect meeting of all the cogs of the band to be both heavy and progressive within the new road that they are forging.
When you start out with a band since their inception, there’s still a piece of you that tries to hold on to whatever got you to cling to their music starting out. That’s The Spirit forces you to realize that Bring Me The Horizon, as a collective, has been building up to this point. This is the type of album where a band starts to realize the fruits of their musical labor and goes in a new echelon. Just to think, this is the same band that recorded “Pray For Plagues”. Now older, wiser, and battle-tested, That’s The Spirit makes a strong claim to be the band’s best to date.
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