A much better album than probably anyone was expecting

Much has been said about Bring Me the Horizon’s apparent transformation on Sempiternal and even to someone who’s never been a fan it’s clear that they may have taken some songwriting tips from Jona Weinhofen during his brief and problematic association with the band.

The use of chaos and dissonance in music is an art in which the likes of Napalm Death, Dillinger and Slayer always excelled; BMTH, not so much. So it is with Sempiternal, the band has reined in most of those elements that made previous albums so wretched and Oliver Sykes has modified his vocal style so that it is no longer the most annoying voice in the history of music.

The result is an album that’s strong on a number of levels. Certainly, the songwriting is much more coherent and accessible and while the riffing is unexciting and over-simplistic, the tracks are barbed with memorable hooks, none more catchy than ‘Go to Hell, for Heaven’s Sake’, which would take the cake for  dumb titles if BMTH didn’t already use a similar name for their last album. ‘The House of Wolves’ and ‘Sleepwalking’ are also enamoured of this sharp catchiness, but it’s inherent throughout Sempiternal, and Sykes’ moderated vocal approach makes the whole thing more eminently listenable. He also tends to be displaying a growing lyrical power here, even if ‘Antivist’ lets the side down with its high-school level guttermouth more at home on the debut. The addition of sampling has added a new layer and a smoothness to the sound, strengthening the melodic aspects without being overdone. This is probably the element that gives Sempiternal some real oomph.

BMTH is breaking new ground here, but really only in terms of their own sound. It’s cohesive and catchy and bound to push them to the next level of global appreciation with a more accessible direction, but it isn’t anything that The Amity Affliction hasn’t already been doing now for a long time, minus the clean singing. Still, Sempiternal is a much better album than probably anyone outside of their rabid fanbase was expecting from Bring Me the Horizon, and has likely guaranteed their longevity among the sea of faceless clones. Their creative highpoint may be yet to come.

1. Can You Feel My Heart
2. The House of Wolves
3. Empire (Let Them Sing)
4. Sleepwalking
5. Go to Hell, for Heaven’s Sake
6. Shadow Moses
7. And the Snakes Start to Sing
8. Seen it All Before
9. Antivist
10. Crooked Young
11. Hospital for Souls