So Close Yet So Far: Bring Me The Horizon at the Forum
Let me start by stating the obvious: I’ve never voluntarily listened to Bring Me the Horizon. I’ve seen them three or four times throughout their notorious career, and I’ve never been sold on their batch of melodic metalcore, though I recognize musicianship when I see it, and they have it. After revisiting the band’s back catalog for hours in the days preceding the show, a shifting trend in production quality and attention is immediately noticeable. This is no more so obvious than on Bring Me the Horizon’s most recent album, AMO, that at the time of the performance, was ranked at the top of the UK album charts. I can no way discredit the band’s achievement in charting at the peak — it’s a magnificent feat for any rock band regardless of genre, but from a subgenre of metal and hardcore, it’s nearly unheard of. I’d also like to note how at the time of publishing this, the album has completely fallen off the charts. Though the band is currently experiencing a large deal of attention and success typically reserved for Pop stars, their stage show has transitioned, as it has grown, and the band’s performance has literally shifted to smoke & mirrors…well fog machines and projector screens.
Lead singer Oliver Sykes took the stage Wednesday with a set of mostly new material, far different from their early sound, and no one in the crowd seemed to mind. From the band’s opening performance of Mantra, their Grammy nominated breakthrough hit in the US, the band kept the crowd of mall-metal kids well entertained. In fact a circle pit in the opening of Syke’s rendition of The House of Wolves was far crazier than any I’ve seen recent at any of the large scale punk festivals, and a major indication that the band’s studio releases might be polished and dubbed down, but their energy (and that of their crowd) still exists.
This is where the major conundrum for me falls. Is Bring me the Horizon hurting their legacy in metal by achieving this level of success for a record so much different than the material that won them fans to begin with? The unfortunate circumstances of selling records (streaming tracks) at this level has resulted in the band’s releases sounding more like an overtly and intentionally produced sound, more reminiscent of Linkin Park, rather than the early 2000s metal core bands that helped influence their original sound. Whatever it is, it’s clearly worked for what they set out to create, but may continue to run the risk of compromising the groups already fledgling reputation in the genre. These things happen to most metal bands when they gain popularity, but not since Bad Religion’s Into the Unknown or Metallica’s St. Anger have I seen such a sharp contrast in sound.
The performance had a few highs, including Antivist and an encore rendition of Doomed, but I don’t imagine a return to their head splitting, face melting death-mosh-core anytime soon.
Words by: Dave Unbuckled
Photos by: Giuseppe Steel