Album Review: Bring Me The Horizon – amo
How much do you think you know about amo? You’ve been indoctrinated by the magnificent Mantra. You’ve ridden the edge of a knife with the wildly unpredictable Wonderful Life. You’ve tasted the melodic dose of Medicine. But what kind of album do these delightfully disparate clues point towards Bring Me The Horizon’s sixth opus – perhaps the most anticipated album of 2019 – being? Turns out even if you think you know, you’ve got no idea what’s coming.
BMTH themselves have kept the hand they’re about to play close to their chest. Despite being justified in having ideas of grandeur given their status as the UK’s biggest heavy band, frontman Oli Sykes’ summary of their new baby is refreshingly restrained. “It’s definitely gonna take a few listens,” he explained to K! recently. “Not because you won’t like it at first, but because the songs have got so much going on.”
Indeed, Oli and his bandmates have created something unique here: the music they deem to be missing from the world that they want to hear. How else do you explain Wonderful Life’s cocktail of none-more-Sheffield vocals, colossal riffs courtesy of Oli and Jordan Fish’s aborted sessions with Limp Bizkit, and a hissing cameo from Cradle Of Filth frontman Dani Filth? Or Nihilist Blues, their collaboration with Canadian singer-songwriter Grimes? A five-and-a-half-minute immersion in a musical microcosm that’s equal parts haunting, raving and raunchy, it’s the most out-there, ambitious and daring song they’ve ever put their name to. And there’s a lot of competition here.
Amo’s ability to be so many things to so many people is what truly impresses throughout. In less skilled hands, this hopping between genres and experiments with style could have come across as an attempt to fit into worlds beyond rock, magpie-ing outside elements into a populist whole. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is far too well executed and wilfully unusual for that. Rock, metal, pop, dance and classical (on lush closer I Don’t Know What To Say) aren’t thrown in to appeal to their respective fanbases, but wielded by artists with a constantly expanding palette and no-one to tell them what they can and can’t paint.
This is heavier and darker than 2015’s streamlined That’s The Spirit, but even when it’s not being explicitly so, amo retains a weight in its heart. The title is the Portuguese word for ‘I love’, a theme that flows throughout, but this isn’t a concept album in the traditional sense. Rather, it’s an examination of the many stages of love, including its toxic deterioration and painful aftermath. So, the title of opening track I Apologise If You Feel Something feels spikier in its lyrical intent than the futuristic dreaminess of its sound, while MANTRA likens it to a cult. Medicine, meanwhile, declares, ‘Some people are a lot like clouds, you know / ’Cause life’s so much brighter when they go,’ in the way only someone who’s purged harmful forces from their life could express.
Occasionally, as on Sugar Honey Ice & Tea and Mother Tongue, BMTH’s impulse to be the biggest band in the world can’t be masked by sonic sophistication, which only adds to the bowstrings of this far-reaching and far-out album. David Bowie once said, “Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.” It’s BMTH’s innate ability to stay one step ahead, like they do here, that means the future remains firmly theirs.
Words: James Hickie
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