Following their two most successful (and probably best) albums yet, Sheffield band Bring Me The Horizon have released their long-awaited sixth album, amo. amo is the biggest departure from their well-known metalcore sound, instead featuring an array of experiments into electronic music. However, the signs have been there for a long time. Sempiternal’s Can You Feel My Heart and That’s The Spirit’s Throne are some of their biggest songs that integrate the electronic sound, and with the poppier direction taken on That’s The Spirit, the progression of amo feels natural.
But question marks have to be raised on the quality of the amo. The first two singles of the album (MANTRA and wonderful life) felt like pandering to the old fans the way that Happy Song did on That’s The Spirit. The songs, particularly MANTRA, sounded like the band trying too hard to channel the anger and darkness of older songs. While the riff of MANTRA is decent, the song falls flat on its cult-based lyrics, feeling out of place on an album that is predominantly about love (amo being Portuguese for ‘I love’). wonderful life, fortunately, doesn’t fall into the same trap. Oli Sykes’ lyrics are disconnected and visceral, and his raw voice and the song’s breakdown are becoming increasingly rare in the band’s discography.
It’s the rest of the album that will be controversial among fans of the band. Opener i apologise if you feel something and mid-album cut ouch are more electronic mood-setters than they are songs, but fresh bruises, though functioning as an interlude, ends up being one of the most rewarding songs on the record. Building up over an electronic beat and Sykes’ obscured vocals singing ‘Don’t you try to fuck with me / don’t you hide your love’, it ends up sampling Can You Feel My Heart, and it’s hard to not be drawn into the hypnotising moodiness of the song.
Sykes is also more self-aware than he’s ever been. The electronic rock heavy metal nods to ‘some kid on the ‘gram [who] said he used to be a fan / but this shit ain’t heavy metal’. In the last five seconds of the song, it breaks down into actual metal, with Sykes screaming, ‘No this ain’t heavy metal’. This could well be the last time we hear anything like it from Bring Me The Horizon, as they gradually find themselves turning to pop music.
Two of the songs on the album are outright pop – medicine and mother tongue. medicine is one of the catchiest songs they’ve ever done, an aggressive arena-ready pop song that succeeds in being memorable and enjoyable. On the other hand, mother tongue is the song where the album’s title originates, with the lyrics, ‘Don’t say you love me, fala, amo / just let your heart speak up and I’ll know’. It could be an affecting song, if not for the fact it sounds as empty and overproduced as a Maroon 5 hit. With all the song’s sincerity peeled away, it feels lifeless, and just another song for the radio.
Most perplexing of all is the Grimes-featuring song nihilist blues. It’s a blend of autotune and club synths reminiscent of Crystal Castles that shouldn’t work for a metalcore band. But amongst all the chaos, it works, and is a brave step forward for Bring Me The Horizon.
The messiness of amo is really what makes it so interesting. It’s unlike anything any mainstream metal band has released, and its message is defiant. Going into the album with any expectations only proves to be a negative: Bring Me The Horizon are breaking free from the constraints of what has become a stale genre. The record itself is merely an experiment, but it will have a definite great impact on the band’s future and other metalcore bands. It’s over multiple listens that amo will reveal itself; while inconsistent, the album’s highs are rewardingly entrancing.