Bring Me the Horizon have been on the verge of going full Hulkamania for a while now. Their last two albums have been all killer, no filler and backing track aided Reading performances aside, they seem capable of doing no wrong at the moment. Even the tidal wave of hate that they used to face every time their name popped up on the internet seems to have calmed, at least a little. Yet is That’s The Spirit good enough to be worthy of the success it seems destined to have? Or are Bring Me about to pull an Avenged Sevenfold by having one of their weaker albums turn out to be their biggest?
All the built up to That’s the Spirit has focused on the next step in Bring Me’s evolution as a band. Singles like ‘Throne’ saw them sounding like Linkin Park, while ‘Drown’ seemed to suggest that their heaviness was about to become a thing of the past. If that move terrified you, then That’s the Spirit is probably going to break your heart, because Bring Me have staked their flag in the ground and it’s a flag that reads alternative rock rather than heavy metal.
That doesn’t mean it’s a complete departure and the truth is it feels like a natural next step. The synth heavy, almost pop choruses, of tracks like ‘Avalanche’ are huge and it’s the kind of song that you can imagine arenas screaming at the top of their lungs. Bring Me are aiming for the stars and you get the impression they’re willing to lose a few older fans to get there.
In the context of the album ‘Happy Song’ makes a lot more sense. Coming out of the electronic heavy ‘Doomed’, it gives the whole album a jolt start, kicking things up a notch and giving those that still crave a bit of heaviness something to cling onto. It’s very much the exception rather than the rule however, as Oli Sykes has completed his transition from screamer into singer. His vocals are good, although hardly likely to be picked out as anyone’s highlight, but there are times when it sounds like he’s had a bit of help. An accusation they might want to avoid coming out of that Reading performance.
Despite that this album hits more than it misses. ‘What You Need’, with it’s declaration that ‘you make me want to slit my wrists and play in my blood, you make me want to kill myself just for the fucking fun’, is sure to become an anthem to disillusioned teens the world over. While ‘Drown’ is just as singable here as it was the first time you heard it.
The biggest album of Bring Me the Horizon’s career has turned them into the band that people have been accusing them of being for years. Because this is most definitely not metal. However, it is a fucking ballsy move. Bring Me have shot for the stars and while the long-term implications are not clear yet, it’s a move that deserves all the respect in the world. The fact they’ve done it with some kick ass songs is almost just a bonus.