Bring Me the Horizon – Amo (Album Review)

They have been on a steady, upward trajectory since their Suicide Season days over a decade ago. Now, the Grammy-nominated Bring Me The Horizon are poised to make 2019 their bitch. Delivering their brand of sonic love, Amo arrives on January 25th via Columbia Records, and your ears might never be the same!

These days, literally everyone has an opinion about the little Rock band from Sheffield, England. In their earliest days, Bring Me The Horizon (or simply BMTH) were borderline Deathcore, screaming about torture techniques to a mass of alienated teens. Over time, however, that all shifted and Vocalist Oli Sykes began to, gasp, sing. The fandom was shook! With 2015’s That’s the Spirit, the band took a bit of a twist from their 2013 career-defining Sempiternal, branching toward a more streamlined sound. Indeed, this move left some fans drowning in delight, while others cringed at the glossy finishes and refined production.

Let’s face it, Amo is apt to continue to polarize fans. For their sixth full-length disc, Bring Me The Horizon — Vocalist Sykes, Guitarist Lee Malia, Bassist Matt Kean, Drummer Matt Nicholls and Keyboardist Jordan Fish — cast their net wide, toying with a collection of sounds, fluidly crossing genres, and crafting something that is a boldly mature new face. As a result, the 13-track album — which was self-produced by Sykes and Fish — is not easily categorized or defined, and clearly that is just how these boys want it!

The ethereal electronics that open “I apologize if you feel something,” along with the effects instituted on Sykes’ voice, are likely to ruffle feathers instantly. If you can hang, the truth is that the sentiments of old are still very much embedded in BMTH 2.0, and the track is darkly moving, like an ambient “Can You Feel My Heart” on steroids. The first “proper” track, if you will, “MANTRA” sees the band going full-throttle to start a cult and overcome their existential misery. It’s a fully modern mockery of false tragedies and our gleeful ignorance, an intelligent, insightful, no-holds-barred attack – BMTH style. Now, thanks to that eye-catching video, no one remembers how to spell epiphany!

The electronics return full-force for “nihilist blues,” which features the angelically-voiced Canadian songstress Grimes. A dancey beat permeates the Synthpop track, one that sees Sykes’ vocals heavily distorted and worthy of a candy-flossed dancehall. “In the dark” amps up to something that leans more toward a catchy and swaying, yet fully moody Pop Rocker with flourishes of deep bass and guttural guitars. Here, Sykes pours his heart out about the demise of his previous marriage, fraught with religious references and a biting bitterness that depicts the struggles inherent in love.

The stream-of-conscious catharsis of the darkly ironic, pulsating rocker “wonderful life” features Cradle of Filth’s Dani Filth. That’s pretty Metal, right? Plus, how many bands can get away with lines like “I wear a happy face like I’m Ed Gein?” In truly epic style, Bring Me the Horizon go out with horns blaring in a massively glorious tribute to this ‘wonderful’ life. This leads to the interlude “ouch,” a short respite and one that sees Sykes’ vocals mixed to a falsetto as he’s dragged through hell.

Perhaps the album’s most striking lyrics occur on “medicine,” a fair representation of Amo as a whole: infectious, heavy on studio flourishes, but still somehow entirely Bring Me the Horizon. “Some people are a lot like clouds, you know, ‘cause life’s so much brighter when they go,” Sykes offers in a heart-wrenching confession that anchors the core of the conflicted emotions behind Amo. It’s a perfect bridge, one that leads to a return to “MANTRA”-esque territory on the heavy riffs of stomping rocker “sugar honey ice & tea.” Despite the chorus’ main line being performed in an impressively childlike falsetto, it works somehow.

Though they have toyed dangerously close to Hip Hop influences throughout the collection, “why you gotta kick me when i’m down?” decides to dance straight-on with the devil. In reaction, the band delve deep into deathly fat rhythms that perfectly contrast the melodic pacing of Sykes’ Hip Hop vocal musings. This leads to another interlude, “fresh bruises,” which begins with an electronic fluttering of fairy wings that builds into a thrumming beat and distorted vocals that weave a perfect three-minute breath of fresh air. That flows perfectly into the cool beats of the soaring love song “mother tongue.” A beautifully crafted, emotional release that is, for once, not sarcastic or ironic in its gushy qualities, the track sees Sykes showing nothing but pure love for his wife in her native tongue.

In anticipation of every single critic and fan on the ‘gram who are going to mock Amo for not being Metal, BMTH deliver “heavy metal” featuring Rapper Rahzel. Coincidentally, this is one of the album’s heaviest tracks and that, my friends, is brutal irony that drives the point home. Next, ballad “I don’t know what to say” incorporates electronic strings worthy of The Verve into a moving tribute to a friend who battled cancer and ultimately lost. The simplicity of its sentiments are universal, emotional, beautifully spoken and a somber, touching note to end upon.

Bring Me The Horizon clearly understand that not everyone will enjoy this new facet of their personality, and that’s okay — they are going to keep doing what they do. So, what’s the deal with Amo? Well, if you were not along for the ride of 2015’s That’s The Spirit, then you are not going to have much love in your soul for Amo. If you can hang, if you can embrace evolution that crosses genres fluidly to defy proper categorization, then welcome to the cult! Toying with all genres to weave a sound that is nowhere near their Deathcore beginnings and yet still fully under the Bring Me the Horizon trademark, Amo is intelligently ironic, emotionally raw, biting and beautiful. Just as love is a many-sided coin, so is the accompanying album. One of the most heavily-anticipated albums of the past few years, Amo was totally worth the wait! For these reasons, Cryptic Rock give Bring Me The Horizon’s Amo 4.5 of 5 stars.

Tour Dates:
January 25 Orlando, FL CFE Arena
January 26 Atlanta, GA Coca-Cola Roxy
January 28 Fairfax, VA EagleBank Arena
January 29 Manhattan, NY Hammerstein Ballroom
January 30 Manhattan, NY Hammerstein Ballroom
February 1  Boston, MA Tsongas Ctr at UMass Lowell
February 2  Montreal, QC Place Bell
February 4 Detroit, MI Fillmore Detroit
February 5 Chicago, IL Aragon Ballroom
February 6 Minneapolis, MN Armory
February 8  Dallas, TX South Side Ballroom
February 9 Houston, TX Revention Music Center
February 11 Denver, CO The Fillmore Auditorium
February 13 Los Angeles, CA The Forum
February 15 Phoenix, AZ Comerica Theatre
February 16 Las Vegas, NV The Joint

Purchase Amo:

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