Friday, 1 October 2010

Bring Me The Horizon - There Is A Hell Believe Me I've Seen It, There Is A Heaven Let's Keep It A Secret [9/10]

Is there a band in heavy metal that polarizes opinion more than Bring Me The Horizon? It’s gotten to the point now where it wouldn’t be unreasonable to categorize metal fans based purely on their opinion of the band. Very rarely do you find someone who’s sitting on the fence, such is the nature of the love/hate relationship they have with our community. I have, up until now, occupied that seldom visited purgatory. At first I found them ridiculous. Then I found them even more ridiculous following the much maligned Count Your Blessings. Then I found them oddly respectable off the back of the generic but far more advanced Suicide Season. With that last record, they seemed on the cusp of greatness, and ever since I’ve been openly waiting for the moment that they would reach that plateau but unconvinced that it was coming. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

From the very moment the album begins you know you’re dealing with a very different beast than what’s come before. Opening with a gentle, reverby intro, ‘Crucify Me’ explodes into a flurry of progressive and harmoniously metallic riffwork and escalates from there, one of its major highlights coming in the form of the supremely talented Lights cleanly singing the album’s title before BMTH not only autotune he shit out of it but manage to make it tasteful and downright necessary. With Lights making one more appearance in our outro, we’re led into the sheer crunch of ‘Anthem’, a fist pumping, adrenaline charged metal workout built upon a chorus that’s destined to be screamed to the point of shredded throats at future Horizon shows (which right at the songs conclusion is slowed down to Machine Head territory. It’ll make you want to see them live. Guaranteed). Lead single ‘It Never Ends’ is quite possibly the best song the band have ever put their name to, exploring a multitude of textures and dynamic territories. It’s a chaotic affair that flawlessly blends ferocity with delicacy, made all the more poignant by Oli Sykes’ unbearably raw lyrics and the ingenuity with which he delivers the incredible chorus. The punky and angst-ridden ‘Fuck’ takes a delve into their past but is brought forward with a renewed sense of maturity, thanks in no small part to an appearance from youmeatsix’s Josh Franceschi who infuses the somewhat “chorus” and the heartstring-wrangling outro with a wistful melancholy. It stands no chance against ‘Don’t Go’ in the emotional stakes however. In perhaps the most experimental moment on the album, lightly picked guitars are woven in with restrained violins and gut-wrenchingly confessional lyrics. Oli’s pain seethes through the cracks in his voice as he admits “I can’t do this on my own”, and Lights makes another appearance with her wonderfully ethereal vocals creating a goosebump-inducing juxtaposition. ‘Home Sweet Hole’ begins with a riff that’s almost like metal’s take on pop-punk, and spins through into a chorus that’s built for the pit, while ‘Alligator Blood’ see’s another visit to more familiar territory, but once again with that underlying maturity through its progressive tendencies. ‘Visions’ is undoubtedly the albums show-off moment, as every last one of them take their performances and their ability to a previously unreached level, aggression and power seeping throughout, leading us comfortably into ‘Blacklist’. ‘Blacklist’ is the grittiest, nastiest, sludgiest and downright gnarliest song the band have ever written. It’s all down tuned and plodding riffs, each one lumbering into the track like its own snarling beast – think what Down would sound like on a collaboration with Meshuggah. What follows is a huge surprise, and actually turns out to be an album highlight, the instrumental ‘Memorial’. There’s no metal to be seen here, but it loses none of its power. A repeating chord progression plays beneath a just as repetitive clean guitar line while programmed drums slither away in the background. ‘Memorial’ realises it’s true effect when combined with imagery, so do yourself a favour and walk around your streets on a miserable day with this in your headphones. You’ll understand what I’m saying. ‘Memorial’ is directly connected to ‘Blessed With A Curse’, which is the moment Oli Sykes puts his soul out for all to see and judge in an almost uncomfortably confessional way, in which he begs to “Take back every word I ever said to you” and sombrely admits “Everything I touch turns to stone”. It’s so raw it’s inexplicable, and I defy you not to get chills as the song fades out and the only vocals we hear are straight from the vocal room, as though he’s right there screaming the words in our face. The image of a man losing his shit in the booth is alarmingly powerful. You’re not given any time to relax from the shakes as ‘The Fox And The Wolf’ bursts into a one minute, 43 second explosion of punk and thrash to end the expansive journey of regret, aggression and confession BMTH have just flung us into.

When comparing the band that made this album to the band that made This Is What The Edge Of Your Seat Was Made For, it’s like you’re dealing with an entirely different band. And the truth is, you are. You can hear and feel how much they’ve matured, and there’s a real sense of urgency now that was lacking in all previous releases. Bring Me The Horizon have surpassed themselves and downright proven themselves following this, to the point where even if it’s not your cup of tea, you’d have to have some serious problems to not be able to at least respect them. They’ve defied rejection from the more-metal-than-thou crowds to deliver one of the finest albums you’ll hear all year, not just in metal but in music. There Is A Hell Believe Me I’ve Seen It, There Is A Heaven Let’s Keep It A Secret will forever be remembered as the moment Bring Me The Horizon finally shook off the shackles of their naive past and came into their own – pushing limits, stretching heavy metal’s possibilities and standing boldly as this generations leaders of the UK metal scene. This is the sound of the future.

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