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Starting the Year Off Right with BMTH’s ‘amo’

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Starting the Year Off Right with BMTH’s ‘amo’

Nicole Shaker, Editor-in-Chief

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Following the release of their Grammy-nominated first single off sixth LP, amo, on August 21 of last year, British rock band Bring Me The Horizon built massive hype for their new album through subsequent singles, intense live performances, and frequent merch drops. Now, after months of keeping us on the edges of our seats, the band announced on January 25 that “amo is yours.” The night before, the released every song with an accompanying lyric video so fans could get a taste before the album went live on streaming platforms.

BMTH has been a very controversial rock band in recent years, distancing themselves from their old sound (deathcore) by an incredible amount and, consequently, distancing themselves from countless old fans. Every single album from 2006’s Count Your Blessings has shown a gradual departure from their roots, amo being the most extreme shift by far. It had disappointed many fans who were craving the return of a heavier sound (“Bring back the old horizon”), but the band could not be more happy with the end result—rightfully so. This collection is daring, surprising, and shows a deep level of musical artistry and insight, despite it being true that this is not “the old horizon.”

Here’s a track by track analysis of the 4.5-star album:
  1. i apologize if you feel something – 10/10

This could not be a more perfect start to the album; it precludes the dark nuances of the overall theme of love. I was completely entranced by it upon first hearing it, and subsequent listenings have not diluted its haunting power. Percussionist of the band Jordan Fish described it as “almost like a hymn” and “a rush of emotion” in an NME interview (watch above). One of my favorites off the album, this song is unlike anything you’ve ever heard before—if you came to amo thinking you knew what to expect from the band’s new sound, this song immediately proves that you were dreadfully mistaken. It sets the scene for a dark, alternative, compelling collection of tracks whose sounds cannot be anticipated. It was a smart move to use this unconventional track as the introduction.

  1. MANTRA – 8/10

BMTH made this song specifically to be the first single, in order to show the world that they were changing while not completely alienating the large faction of their fanbase used to their hardcore music. “MANTRA” has an uber-catchy beat and chorus, interesting elements (such as the Siri-like mantra of “mantra” in the chorus and the interspersed deathcore-reminiscent screams), and is overall a very solid song in terms of lyrics, production, and instrumental/vocal execution. It does its job in the album, and it does it well.

  1. nihilist blues (feat. Grimes) – 9/10

Definitely the strangest track on the album, this single (the last one, released the day before amo) is almost indescribable. By this third track, you can pretty much throw everything you thought you knew about BMTH out the window. It’s 90s grunge-electro-dance-pop with a dark exterior and disturbing lyrics. Upon my first listen, the song really wasn’t doing much for me; I thought it was too much of a departure and was trying way too hard to be weird. Upon repeated listening, however, I couldn’t get enough. This could be one of the most unique and well-executed songs I have ever heard, the intense beat intoxicating to the point of being overwhelming (in a good, experimental way). The Grimes feature is especially wonderful—the avant-garde pop artist owns this song. BMTH was smart to release this a day before the album, as it gave some warning to the intense weirdness of some of the tracks on amo. Everything released before “nihilist blues” feels safe in comparison, so good on BMTH for having the intuition to let fans in a little bit on the surprise before the drop. Definitely one of my favorites, “nihilist blues” is the epitome of the band’s evolution.

  1. in the dark – 10/10

This song is just so cool. Having a catchy, alternative vibe but still possessing uniqueness through the chorus’s highly autotuned repetition of “in the dark,” this song feels graceful and flawless. It even has some heavy guitar—not something a lot of alt-rock bands can pull off in their music with such little effort. It’s impossible not to sing along to, but it doesn’t feel basic. That’s the beauty of BMTH’s transition to pop; they are able to mark their songs with a signature that removes anything generic about them. This song is the best proof that they can actually do pop well, demonstrating their insane versatility. Along with Tracks 1 and 3 so far, it’s for sure a favorite.

  1. wonderful life (feat. Dani Filth) – 7/10

I was completely obsessed with this song when it was released as the second single because of its hard-hitting chorus and funny lyrics, but mostly because I was just starving for some new BMTH. When looked at in the context of the entire album, it’s far from the strongest track—it just doesn’t have much of a shock factor or any qualities that set it apart, besides it being the heaviest on the album, which a lot of old fans appreciated. But the song is by no means bad at all; the lyrics are darkly ironic, the heavy chorus is catchy, and interspersed deathcore screams compliment the track. Filth’s feature doesn’t do much, but it’s a nice variety of voice. He also plays a key role in the sublime music video for this song. It just runs on a bit too long and falls a tad short by the end.

  1. ouch – 4/10

This is the first interlude we get on the album—and it’s strange—but no longer surprising if you made it this far. The vocals don’t sound like lead singer Oli Sykes at all, instead just a high-pitched autotuned recording. That’s a shame, considering how personal the lyrics are to Oli—“I know I said I was under your spell/ But this hex is on another level/ And I know I said you could drag me through hell/ But I hoped you wouldn’t f*** the Devil.” This is a direct callback to previous album’s fervent love song “Follow You,” written about Sykes’s now ex-wife. “Follow You” proclaims: “You can drag me through hell/ If it meant I could hold your hand/ I will follow you/ Because I’m under your spell.” Upon learning that his wife was unfaithful, he realized that love spell was actually a hex and promptly divorced her, a process that brought him much pain. The lyrics to this one were released before amo, and I was really hoping it was going to consist of Sykes’s passionate vocals—I hoped it was going to be a real song. It does have its place in the album, fitting well with the sound, but it just feels cheap to me.

  1. medicine – 9/10

Released as the third single, “medicine,” brought about much controversy, being by far the most poppy song on the album. However, again, BMTH prove their chops in this genre. In the span of 2 days, “medicine” was statistically my most listened to song ever. It’s catchy, smart, and hard not to love, even if you’re a metalhead. Any heavy BMTH fan who gave this song immense criticism was probably partly forcing themselves to hate it because that’s just what’s expected. But rock goes pop isn’t always a sellout, and, frankly, BMTH do pop a lot better than a lot of current mainstream pop artists themselves. And, unlike every other pop song, I cannot see myself ever getting sick of this one.

  1. sugar honey ice & tea – 7/10

This song is a banger, similar to “wonderful life.” It veers off the theme of love, instead taking a look at narcissism in current society. It’s a very well-executed rock song, Sykes delivering wicked lyrics in his signature harsh tone. The chorus is fast-paced and vivacious, and its title is sung in a glorified rock falsetto. It doesn’t break musical boundaries (though not every song has to), but it does have some interesting stamps that make for a fun listen.  

  1. why you gotta kick me when i’m down? – 10/10

This song is such a cool jam, with pungent lyrics and wonderful vocal and instrumental execution, especially from the guitar in the chorus. The little electronic bits are perfectly placed in good taste. The lyrics are the stars though, Sykes screaming with an influx of rage that he’s a seed, and putting him in the ground will only cause him to thrive. “Throne” off their previous album has a similar message but isn’t as developed. The one thing I would do to this song is shave off its last 36 seconds, which are just a pointless electronic interlude (something this album can’t get enough of).

  1. fresh bruises – 4/10

What do you know—an electronic interlude. Possessing a better sound than “ouch” but also way more repetition, it gets the same rating. I understand the placement in the album, as BMTH said that they only made this song because they just wanted an outlet to try things they’ve never done and couldn’t fit into other tracks, not having to worry about structure or appeal. But I just don’t understand what’s so different about it—again, it feels a little cheap to me. The lyrics (two repeated lines: “Don’t you try to f*** with me/ Don’t you hide your love”) fit into the album’s overall arch well; I wouldn’t have minded this interlude if it felt more developed or at least had some more lyrics.

  1. mother tongue – 10/10

Released two days before amo as the fourth single, the beauty of this song immediately showcased itself in magnificent colors. The hook is addicting, and knowing the story behind the lyrics (Don’t say you love me, fala amo/ Just let your heart speak up and I’ll know) makes you want to sing along even harder. After the travesty that was his first marriage, Sykes lost faith in love; then, he met his now-wife Brazilian model Alissa Salls. Despite her not speaking English and him not speaking Portuguese, they fell hard for each other, restoring his faith in “the universe’s magic”—”fala amo” is Portuguese for “I love.” Stripped down, it’s just a glorified love song, but the passion Sykes infuses it with (and the entire band’s execution) colors it perfect.

  1. heavy metal (feat. Rahzel) – 6/10

Anyone who knows the controversy behind BMTH’s sound will immediately connect with this track’s shameless lyrics: “And I keep picking petals/ I’m afraid you don’t love me anymore/ Cuz some kid on the gram/ In a Black Dahlia tank/ Says it heavy metal.” Fish cited this song as starting out as a “piss-take” for them just because they were fed up with the countless comments of old fans proclaiming the death of BMTH. Sykes said,

“Everyone’s always said we’re not right. When we were a metal band, we weren’t metal enough. We weren’t allowed in that scene…Somehow that’s still an issue for our band. It’s still an issue that we don’t have blast beats in our music anymore and we’re not heavy, even though we’ve broke all these barriers…and I’m so proud of what we do, but at the same time a kid on social media can just go, ‘This is complete s***’ and I can just go “You little bastard!’” I like how the whole song isn’t just a big “Screw you” though; Sykes admits he’s afraid of losing his fans in the chorus. Rahzel’s beatboxing sounds sick in this song, and, at the end, there’s a cheeky little metalcore scream that seals the deal. It’s a pretty awesome song that proclaims a message that the band needed to get out; I’m just not a huge fan of the repetitive guitar, which sounds kind of like an ambulance after a while.

  1. i don’t know what to say – 8/10

A strong end to the album, this song probably contains the most melancholy emotion of any track on amo. It centers around Sykes’s disbelief at the death of his childhood friend from cancer, whose strength he is awe about: “How a flower in the rain/ Only grows more when it’s grey/ You just shined on brighter/ Making gold out of the pain/ ‘I can die, but I can’t break,’ you said/ ‘You can rule, I won’t obey’/ As long as I’m still smiling/ Well, I don’t know what to say.” There’s a prominence of orchestral violin and an epic guitar solo after the last verse (a welcome break from the electronic sound). It’s a great song, but I would probably shave off the last minute, which is just an orchestra that seems to fade off into oblivion—although I do understand it in the context of the song.

When all is said and done, BMTH is proud of what they have produced and so are a lot of their fans, and they’ll probably gain new ones that are drawn to this sound. It’s a little funny to think that someone will stumble upon amo to love it and then explore earlier releases and get stunned by the deathcore medley of their first albums. They’ve stated that they would love to be that gateway band that inspires people who’ve never even thought of liking heavier stuff to go out of their comfort zone; I know when I first heard BMTH, I was stunned at myself for liking it. I have no idea what to expect from BMTH from this point on, and I really don’t know how much farther out there they can go, but from the experimental musical success that is amo, I know that I’m excited for what their evolution has in store.

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About the Writer
Nicole Shaker, Editor-in-Chief

Nicole Shaker ('20) is the Editor-in-Chief, alongside Evan Hecht, of The Echo. She loves to write about entertainment topics and is excited to have her...

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Starting the Year Off Right with BMTH’s ‘amo’