By Cameron Watson
It’s been over 14 years since the Sheffield rockers formed and they couldn’t be further from their Deathcore roots, but by genre-blending rock, pop, trance and EDM they have managed to score their first ever UK number one album with amo.
amo follows on from the band’s last release, That’s the Spirit, by continuing to centre the album around one theme, in this case being love. In an interview with the lead singer, Oli Sykes, he stated that the album is and exploration of the “most powerful emotion. It deals with the good, the bad and the ugly, and as a result we’ve created an album that’s more experimental, more varied, weird, and wonderful than anything we’ve done before.” The quote couldn’t more accurately sum up the album.
The album roughly divides into 3 parts, with musical interludes and primers throughout the album to reset the tone and introduce the next main theme. These parts follow along the lines of falling in love, falling out of love/losing a loved one and Oli’s relationship with his fans.
The opening track “i apologise if you feel something” has an eerie, almost ethereal quality to it. Setting a feeling that anything could happen for the rest of the album’s run time, and it most certainly does. “MANTRA” then follows, the first single released back in August 2018, that acts like a bridge from the last album to this one. The perfect mix of heavy guitar and drums with enough chanting lyrics to warrant a radio play.
This is followed up with “nihilist blues” featuring Canadian artpop singer Grimes, potentially one of the most anticipated songs on the album. The song takes a full 180 turn after the hype “MANTRA” created by slowing everything down and emulating the trance music scene from the 80/90s. It’s a bold move to include such a song on a rock album but it manages to work almost effortlessly.
The album then begins to look at the falling out of love stage with songs “in the dark”, “ouch” and “medicine”. All of which discuss Oli’s divorce after he found out he was being cheated on. Surprisingly, none of the songs take on a heavy approach and focus on more melodic approaches as well and elements of EDM.
The lyrics tend to drive each song, with “in the dark” talking about how Oli know longer is in the dark (see what he did there) and knows all the secrets his wife was keeping from him. “ouch” then acts as an interlude, referencing the song “Follow You” from That’s the Spirit before moving into “medicine” where Oli wishes he could make his ex feel the way he did but ultimately chooses to let it go.
The final part of the album then begins to take focus on Oli’s relationship with his fans with the songs “why you gotta kick me when I’m down?” and “heavy metal”. Due to the band’s shift in style from album to album, many of the original fanbase have felt alienated with the last few albums the band has released, and Oli directly addresses these issues in the two songs. “why you gotta kick me when I’m down” blends EDM with the bands rock roots to create a hard-hitting commentary on the bands feeling that the old fans just want them to stay the same and almost tearing them apart for it, but when addressed directly by the band, have nothing to say, perfectly summarised in the lyric:
“So come on and take a shot, you just can’t get enough
Don’t let the fact that you know nothing stop you talking now
‘Cause when all is said and done, my name’s still on your tongue”.
The song “heavy metal” follows this up addressing the “hipster fans” as Oli has called them in interviews that only like them for their heavy metal roots and no longer like the band. Oli sings:
“And I keep picking petals
I’m afraid you don’t love me anymore
‘Cause a kid on the ‘gram in a Black Dahlia tank
Says it ain’t heavy metal”
The track also features famous beatboxer Rahzel from The Roots who sings and beatboxes on the track, almost in a tongue-in-cheek way saying that we know this isn’t heavy metal and we don’t care, further playing on this by screaming out the last lyrics.
The album then ends on a more sombre turn as Oli talks about the loss of a childhood friend who died from cancer on “i don’t know what to say”. The song could be described as metal meets orchestra, which creates this clash of sounds that resonates with the clash of emotions in the situation described by the song. Oli wrote the song before Aidan’s, the friend in question, death and takes a focus on the thoughts and feelings after you are told by someone you love that they are dying. You can’t say everything will be fine, or that things will get better, or sweep it under a rug and move forward and this is all talk about beautifully on a song charged full of emotion.
I could talk more about the songs on the album but at this point I feel its obvious to say that I love it. The more important question is why, after 14 years being together and six studio albums, have the band just got their first number one? Why, because the album is everything. There isn’t one song on this album that won’t resonate with at least someone. The genre-blending has allowed a greater audience accessibility but remained loyal to the rock genre. The topic of love has been done to death in music but for some reason, Bring me the Horizon have made it feel fresh. This is likely due to the raw and honest view they have taken on the subject and amo will likely be a big influence on growing rock bands in the future.