When “MANTRA” - the first single off amo - was released in August, 2018, BMTH fans were introduced to a different sound that was much different from their previous productions, but “Mantra” became a smash hit and was later nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award for best rock song.
The English quintet who became popular through deathcore and metalcore lead by front man Oli Sykes, was taking a hard pivot from mosh pits and screaming. Months filled with anticipation for the new direction that the members were teasing their fans with, quickly became a jarring reality as they released more singles. Following “MANTRA”, Bring Me The Horizon released the edgy arena rock jam, “Wonderful Life”, which was a much more alternative sound than the bands history, but still embodied what Bring Me The Horizon is all about. Energy!
That energy turned pop and electro when “Medicine”, “Mother Tongue” and “Nihilist Blues” released within the last month prior to the full release of amo, and the group took unprecedented feedback, with a great amount of that feedback being negative to the new sound from the fans that love their English metal tracks.
When “Medicine” was released, I was stunned. Giving it another listen, I was still unimpressed by the pop tempo and choruses that only reminded me of emo punk-pop, comparable to bands like All Time Low and The All-American Rejects. As the time went on, I became more into “Medicine” as it would randomly play while on shuffle, and it was because of the catchy chorus that really made the negative feelings towards “Medicine” disappear as I was excited for the amo release. Oli Sykes has teased fans of their new pop sound in various interviews, and that “Medicine” is the “poppiest” track off amo.
That gave the angry fans like myself some relief that we’re still going to get that Bring Me The Horizon sound, but was quickly let down by the next two singles just before the January 25th release.
“Nihilist Blues” and “Mother Tongue” were surprise singles the week of the amo release, which caused major chaos amongst the fans that were okay with “Medicine” being the “poppiest” song on the record. “Nihilist Blue” and “Mother Tongue” were even poppier, and even more so, more electronic.
I remember hearing “Mother Tongue” while I was driving home when I was in silence during the entirety of the song, only to yell after a brief silence, “what the hell was that crap!”
To me, it sounded too much like something Chainsmokers would create, which left a bad feeling of how I should expect the rest of the album to be, and the last single, “Nihilist Blues” was damn near techno that was making my anticipation for amo become almost non-existent.
Then I listened to amo in it’s entirety the weekend of the release, and this is what I think.
Spinning the album track through track, amo has great composition, and all the tracks together, really do form a real cohesive piece of work. amo features songs that original Bring Me The Horizon fans would enjoy, while appealing to the post-That’s the Spirit crowd which really propelled the band to hit airwaves, especially in the United States.
Of course, there are a few songs on this album that I immediately skip, one of those skippable songs being “Nihilist Blues” - it’s just too much of a techno track that reminds me of “Sandstorm”. I’m obsessed with the stoner guitar riffs that are throughout “In the Dark”, which also happens to be one of the most catchy tracks on the entire album.
amo is filled with influence directed by keyboardists and programmer, Jordan Fish, whom joined the group in 2013 during the production of Sempiternal, which was one of their most iconic albums. With brief electronic ambient noises in Sempiternal, Jordan has been able to evolve the band since then.
Perhaps the new sound that Bring Me The Horizon is producing these days is related to the pivot moves that bands need to move towards when electronic music has dominated the airwaves and venues. What I enjoyed most about this album outside of my negative feelings towards some of the tracks, lyrics and production, is the maturity of Oli’s voice since Suicide Season deathcore.
For that, I’m very proud of Oli and the constant evolving of his voice from each album.
amo won’t be next to Sempiternal and That’s the Spirit (Yes, I loved this album) for my favorite Bring Me The Horizon albums, but it’s a change that takes more than a single run-thru to fully understand the catchy tunes that are littered throughout the album.
If you’re like me that was instantly turned off by their recent singles, and the project as a whole, I encourage you to give amo another listen. You might be surprised.
“Well this aint heavy metal!”
My rating: 3/5
My favorites: “In the Dark”, “Wonderful Life”, “Heavy Metal”
amo was released by Sony/RCA and is available on all streaming platforms.