Bring Me The Horizon’s Political Pandemic Record is Something to Scream About
Full of theatrical flourishes such as sirens, sneezes, and dispassionate cyborg-overlord voices, the volatility of Bring Me The Horizon’s latest EP was evocative of the chaos that has defined the past year. Topping the UK album chart months after its release and breathing life back into the BMTH name, Robbie Simms unpacks perhaps the pandemic’s most sincere musical manifestation.
After fourteen years of working together, many groups can lose sight of what made them special in the first place, and although metal-core purists would argue the band had sacrificed their roots in pursuit of more popular sounds, Post Human: Survival Horror is undoubtedly a glorious return to form. BMTH have managed to find the right balance of mainstream pop-rock whilst retaining the metal core bite of earlier projects a-la Suicide Season, but tempered to more commercially accessible levels, without feeling bland or washed out. It doesn’t shy away from the band’s early nu-metal influences; there are even direct references to Sykes’ much-beloved Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park, such as the track Itch for the Cure, a rewording of Linkin Park’s Cure for the itch. The EP is infested with feverish drums and intense sweat-dripping riffs that will have circle pits whipped into a frenzy.
Post Human: Survival Horror wastes no time, leading with the apocalyptic Dear Diary setting the tone for the rest of the EP, full of hysteria-inducing riffs reminiscent of Slayer’s Raining Blood and deathcore screams, not dissimilar to Chris McMahon of Thy Art Is Murder. The track takes us down a path toward nihilistic despair but does so with a newfound ferocity that makes for an exhilarating experience that will leave listeners breathless. The album continues with no let-up on the second track Parasite Eve, opening with a sample from Ergen Deda by Bulgarian group Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares.
‘Despite it’s late shortcomings, POST HUMAN is an exciting project full of interesting new directions and perfected ideas.’
The sample is reformed by increasing the tempo and layering with DOOM-inspired drum beats to create an atmosphere of panic and claustrophobia, which it achieves to great effect. The track also features possibly the most poignant question posed in the pandemic: “When we forget the infection, will we remember the lesson?” This could reference a plethora of modern issues: Sykes could be referencing the redefining of what is important to us personally, in terms of taking our freedoms for granted, but it could also be in reference to the environmental recovery made possible by the ceasing of polluting human activity. Either way, it is an important question that needs to be pondered. The eerie synthetic voices partnered with the roaring guitars perfectly engineer the dystopian soundscape the band is trying to achieve.
Next comes the melodramatic and brooding Teardrops, reminiscent of their 2013 project Sempiternal and packed with more Linkin Park-inspired instrumentals. These are particularly prevalent in the crunchy, stuttering synth intro which hails to Hybrid Theory’s Papercut. Sykes delves into his struggles with mental health during the pandemic, building a sense of despair and hopelessness in the line “nothing makes me sadder than my head.” Sykes indicates that he has lost his “halo”, alluding to the struggle to hold on through the despair and defeat his own “suicidal state of mind.” The track feels like a cathartic release of emotions that has become synonymous with the band’s work over the years.
Parodying governing rhetoric, BMTH teamed up with fellow brit YUNGBLUD to create Obey – a track that delves into skepticism of the government’s handling of the pandemic. The title alone is a rejection of the unquestioning compliance Sykes sees the government as demanding. Opening with a blast of industrial metal, the lyrics accuse world leaders of lacking care for the “common folk”, acting with indifference to “gambling” with the public’s “soul.” The track is a critical commentary on the government’s cavalier attitude toward the pandemic, exacerbated by the constant contradictions and miscommunicated instructions experienced during the early days of Covid-19.
Itch For The Cure serves more as an interlude/intro to the following track Kingslayer. The track title is a reference to the track Cure for the Itch from Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory, which similarly had little to no vocals and predominantly featured electronic instrumentals and distorted vocalizations. This then transitions to the highlight of the EP, Kingslayer, featuring Japanese metal outfit BABYMETAL, a combination that may be perplexing initially, but becomes a masterstroke of death-metal melded with J-Pop influences. There is beauty in the dichotomy between Sykes’ gruff death-metal scream and BABYMETAL’s flawless harmonies. The track doesn’t let up from start to finish, with pulsing kick drums and muscular guitar riffs setting up the soaring chorus delivered by BABYMETAL’s Su-metal. The track is a seminal moment on the record and one which fans of the genre will be revisiting again and again to re-experience the musical highs it reaches.
‘POST HUMAN SURVIVAL HORROR is a fantastic heart-pumping, blood-rushing thrill ride into oblivion.’
It is from this moment that the EP begins to come down from the adrenaline rush of the first five tracks, with 1x1 featuring Nova Twins feeling less like a homage to Linkin Park, and more like a tribute band trying to write their own songs. The next track, Ludens, is still interesting in concept, even if it lacks the stampeding fury of the earlier tracks. While initially written for Hideo Kojimas’s video game Deathstranding, the themes are still quite fitting. The game centres around a society that has been forced to live in isolated shelters to survive and the protagonist must reconnect the splintered society, in which members are too afraid to even go outside. The track even has lines that are spookily prophetic, such as: “How can we make connections when we can’t even shake hands?” Continuing the ideas explored on Obey and Kingslayer, Ludens cries for new leadership. Sykes even stated in an interview with NME: “we need to be our own heroes”, citing environmentalist Greta Thunberg as a source of motivation.
Finally, we come to the album’s closing track: One day the only butterflies left will be in your chest as you march towards your death. Much like the overly wordy title, the track itself seems to outstay its welcome. In quite a dramatic shift from the rest of the record, One Day is much slower and dramatized to the point of feeling uncomfortably similar to a musical theatre number. The song does not seem to fit with the rest of the album in tone, and whilst the harmonies of Lee and Sykes intertwine beautifully, the track does feel like it should have been left on the cutting room floor.
Despite the late shortcomings, Post Human: Survival Horror is an exciting project full of interesting new directions and perfected ideas that make revisiting not only worthwhile but a pleasure. The band manages to tap into the zeitgeist of the pandemic in terms of sorrow and despair, as well as the feeling of anguish and confusion at those leading the public through the darkness. On Post Human: Survival Horror, BMTH really distil the best aspects of early 2000s nu-metal into one of the truest to form projects in almost a decade. It is a fantastic, heart-pumping, blood-rushing, thrill ride into oblivion. Despite being the shortest project BMTH have put together, Post Human is arguably their seminal work to date. With chugging riffs, electrifying choruses and a multitude of exemplary features which are amplified by some of the best and most ferocious vocals Sykes has set to record, Post Human: Survival Horror isn’t just an attack on the senses: it is a war!
Written by: Robbie Simms
Edited by: Alex Duke