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“This is a bloated and incoherent album”: A review of Bring Me The Horizon’s Amo

There have been many hot takes on Bring Me The Horizon’s sixth album Amo in recent weeks. Many of these have been unfair criticisms levied by those who still haven’t forgiven the band for abandoning straight up metalcore what is now almost a decade ago. I’m not one of those people.

I like their entire discography, but my favourite two albums are That’s the Spirit and Sempiternal, and I grew up on Pendulum and Daft Punk and threw myself head first into Dubstep and then future House. So I’m not coming at this from an anti-electronic angle – I like their pop direction. So everything I’d heard about this album was poised for it to click with me, and quite frankly, it just didn’t. I shall now try and dismantle exactly why I don’t think it resonated, and that’s a lot harder than my usual schtick of fanboying about music that speaks to me.

First, let us talk about what I loved. The collab with Grimes called ‘Nihilist Blues’. This was dark, moody pop that was a progression from their moody pop-rock from That’s the Spirit. Grimes’ airy vocals contrast Oli’s restrained yet still markedly dark delivery. His delivery of “spirit in a tube” reminds me of Katy B’s delivery on the chorus of Katy on a Mission, one of my favourite tracks of all time. The heavy heavy electronic beats are impactful and unforgettable, unlike in many other spots of the album. It makes me wonder: why couldn’t we have got an album of this?

There is no consistent atmosphere or mood here 

‘Heavy Metal’ gave me a good laugh. A song called with such a title that is actually a rap about the metalheads who still won’t give up on giving them stick for making pop records is humorous. All the punches land and the chorus is catchy. Other shoutouts are the incredibly catchy chorus of ‘Medicine’ which still jams despite cringy 14-year-old Tumblr lyrics. The riff of ‘Wonderful life’ which is distorted in an interesting way and ‘Why you gotta kick me when I’m down’ is heartfelt with an excellent electronic breakdown at the end.

A key point here amongst all these points is that nothing I said I liked in the above two paragraphs were within two songs of each other. This is a bloated and incoherent album. Outwith ‘I apologise if you feel something’ which wouldn’t work as anything other than an intro track – it isn’t a full track – this album is as well played on shuffle as listened through in order.

We have a spooky and eerie intro which leads straight into the bombastic, overblown cringefest that is ‘Mantra’. It is catchy but I can’t shake the feeling the riff is just Club Foot given the spinal tap treatment and the lyrics are again a letdown. I forgive the lyrics on That’s the Spirit because I like the atmosphere of the record but there is no consistent atmosphere or mood here so it just comes off as an aberration. You can tell they recorded it after the album was finished specifically to be a single. I presume the album was meant to transition straight from the intro to ‘Nihilist Blues’, which would make far more sense.

It made no impression whatsoever

However, ‘In The Dark’ is just forgettable. It made no impression whatsoever, and then we go into the very strange collab with Dani Filth, of the band Cradle of Filth. It’s just a confusing mess of a song. A great riff, with parts where Oli talks over the top about the brain decaying then mumbles about forgetting what he’s on about, then going into the chorus. I know it’s meant to be irreverent but it just comes across as a waste of a good song. The lyrics in this song and in ‘Sugar, Honey, Ice and Tea’ are not cringy in the same way as many of their songs in the past have been, they’re just straight up insultingly bad.

‘Ouch’ is an inoffensive and at least cohesive follow up to ‘Wonderful life’, and I find ‘Medicine’ incredibly catchy, with a great hook. However, this is followed by ‘Sugar, Honey, Ice and Tea’. Now, where do I start with that? Where do I start? The change in tone back to Alt-rock comes out of nowhere. The fact that the joke of the chorus is that we’re all full of… “Sugar, Honey, Ice and Tea”… yeah. Put the first letters of each word together. Yeah. That is a genuine chorus written by a man in his 30s. I could do a Lindsey Ellis-esque “The Whole Plate” on this song but I won’t.

Moving on, the rap influenced ‘why you gotta kick me when I’m down?’ is very well produced and heartfelt. It is the high point of the album and the electronic breakdown at the end is excellent. ‘Fresh Bruises’ has an eerie intro and then some very heavy beats with pitch shifted layered vocals that between this and the previous song actually start to establish a mood for the first time on the album. However, this is offset by the generic and forgettable ‘Mother Tongue’ which goes straight into the very heavy “Heavy Metal.” As I’ve said above, I love everything about this song. It has a great message. It made the metalcore subreddit very angry. It has a fantastic beat, interesting breakdown, and the irony of ending on one of his trademark screams is excellent – even if it does make me wish I could have a few more.

It doesn’t feel like artistic evolution, but artistic desperation

Summing up this album is incredibly hard. On the one hand, it has no flow and is generally incoherent in terms of identity and on a thematic level. It veers from alt-rock to rap beats to various EDM influences and The 1975 influences are very apparent on the slower electronic tracks. It doesn’t feel like artistic evolution, but artistic desperation.

That said, a number of the songs are genuinely excellent and have been on heavy rotation in my playlist. The only song that has nothing going for it is ‘Sugar, Honey, Ice and Tea’. The others are either forgettable or have a redeeming feature – the riff in ‘Wonderful life’ for example. They show that they are excellent musicians and artists throughout but it feels incongruent and I feel like it is worse listened to as a whole than simply with songs taken as singles, and its honestly the first time I’ve felt that way about an album in a long time.

I remember not vibing with all the singles for The American Dream by Trophy Eyes but in the context of the album, I thought it was a masterpiece when taken as a whole. But I don’t remember feeling the reverse. This album just leaves me with an odd feeling. BMTH are a band I’ve liked for a long time, and four of the songs off their new record are in heavy rotation in my playlist. I do not think, however, I can in good faith give it a rating of more than a five out of 10 because, in my opinion, it’s not an album, but a collection of songs, some of which I very much like. So although it hurts, that’s my final verdict.

 

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