It should come as no surprise that Bring Me The Horizon are releasing something like this. They’ve made their decision to shun ‘traditional’ album cycles known in recent times, but amo itself felt as though it was sewing a lot of the ideas that the band would come to realise moving forward. Compared to That’s The Spirit, it was a bit more rock-oriented, but never saw that as a baseline in a way that marginalise the expansions that Bring Me The Horizon clearly have in mind. Between wide swathes of influences coming from very contemporary, Internet-driven waves of hip-hop and electronic music, and a splatterpaint collaborative urge spanning Dani Filth, Grimes, Poppy and Rahzel, the idea of Bring Me The Horizon moving away from rock music – a narrative that’s been pushed and sneered at in equal measures by those who can’t be bothered to look deeper than the very surface – is more along the lines of breaking away from archaic, antiquated ideals that rock could traditionally be linked to. Granted, they might have blown their load a bit too quickly with their Music to listen to~… project, a foray into electronic music that was just as obnoxiously long and unwieldy as its full title, but there’s something about Post Human: Survival Horror that feels fresher while keeping to their wheelhouse. The continuation of surprising guest turns has already been noted, but it’s the fact that this is apparently the first in a series of releases that’s more intriguing still, almost as if Bring Me The Horizon have taken the lead of mixtape release strategies for something that’s much more liberated and allowing of greater creative freedom.
With that in mind then, few moves seem like a bigger curveball at this juncture than returning back the electrically-charged alt-metal that made Sempiternal such a force, and still be able to have it fit on the current curvature. That’s where many will attribute Post Human…’s greatness, and the fact that this is undoubtedly Bring Me The Horizon’s heaviest full body of work in some time, but it’s more so the fact they’ve so precisely nailed the balance between where they were sonically the best part of a decade ago, and the mood they’ve cultivated in their most modern work. This feels modern and cutting-edge – both in intent and execution – without sound overly alien in the way that Music to listen to~… did, and combining that with Bring Me The Horizon’s knack for a steamrolling hook that’s never really gone away leads to Post Human… having a pretty great impact in almost everything it sets out to do.
Of course, it’s worth addressing how well the return to heavier climes fits Bring Me The Horizon first, and how it does so without having to rely too heavily on overt nostalgia to carry it. There’s certainly an element of that, particularly in how Dear Diary, was chosen as the opener, but generally, Post Human… operates more as a vehicle to place that into the modern context of Bring Me The Horizon’s career. They’re hitting the big swings of nu-metal revivalism on Teardrops and 1×1, which meshes surprisingly well with the harsh industrial darkness of Parasite Eve and Ludens, the barnstorming electro-metal raging of Obey, and the pivot into J-metal facilitated by an excellent Babymetal guest spot on Kingslayer. That in itself sets a good tone for how well the outside forces on this release have been plugged in, too; Nova Twins probably have the least of note to do on 1×1 but they’re still good, while Yungblud sounds the best he ever has on Obey, and the softer, grander One Day The Only Butterfiles Left Will Be The Ones In Your Chest As You March Towards Your Death is the perfect fit for Evanescence’s Amy Lee. Arguably the most important presence brought in, though, is Doom composer Mick Gordon on production, bringing the intensity and roughness to the mix that creates a more high-octane version of Bring Me The Horizon than they’ve recently displayed, especially on songs like Dear Diary, and Obey with a commendable return to heaviness in almost every channel. That facilitates an environment for Oli Sykes to deliver a more ferocious vocal performance, as well as bring back the screams that have been generally absent from the last couple of Bring Me The Horizon albums (unironically, at least) without this feeling like a reversion. Not once does Post Human… feel as though Bring Me The Horizon are bowing down to detractors, but rather bringing out the sides of them that makes sense for what they’re doing, and fitting that into a context where the synergy between it all really hits a high watermark.
It makes sense that they’ve chosen to pull from this well though, given how much anger and frustration has returned to the band’s creative headspace, with this being the most efficient and direct way to channel it. There’s very clearly mid-pandemic ennui that’s playing a big role in shaping that on Dear Diary, and Parasite Eve (with some very on-the-nose references to define the latter), which plays into deteriorating mental health on Teardrops and 1×1, and the culminating note of desolation that hasn’t gotten any further out of sight on One Day The Only Butterfiles Left Will Be The Ones In Your Chest As You March Towards Your Death. Among that, there’s also volleys at a government trying to downplay and marginalise the pandemic increasingly unsuccessfully on Obey, and what feels like a call to action for change and finding a governing body that’s actually capable of moving forward on Ludens. That one might be more of a stretch, given that it’s the one song on here whose inclusion feels the least tied to the overall mood (having been written for Death Stranding, and with a lot of that thematic throughline being general conjecture around the reference in its title), but with it and Parasite Eve being tied-in video game references – as well as the simple fact of Gordon’s inclusion – there’s definitely a sub-theme of the modern post-apocalypse that’s woven underneath. It’s not exactly the most prescient of political music, and there’s definitely a broadness that’s favoured overall, but it’s hard to deny that works as well for Bring Me The Horizon now as it mostly has in the past, and it’s the most fired-up that that particular approach has felt from them in years.
That’ll undoubtedly come as more of a surprise for some than others, especially those who might’ve prematurely written Bring Me The Horizon off in their genre transitions without seeing what those actually consisted of, but Post Human… feels like a suitable culmination of the last couple of phases, slimmed down to pretty much an all-killer, no-filler package. It has some of their most propulsive and vigorous material in years, balanced by a heavier sound that’s always had merit and a sense of melody to elevate it even further. It’s essentially the ideal middle ground of almost every incarnation of Bring Me The Horizon, not liable to remain like that if their previous releases are anything to go by, but absolutely a winning formula for what they’re trying to do here. Even more impressive still is the near-unanimous reaction its received from the Bring Me The Horizon fanbase, which in itself is a feat that they genuinely may never have achieved before. If that doesn’t scream out how much this particular direction works, then nothing will.
For fans of: Enter Shikari, Linkin Park, Crossfaith
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Post Human: Survival Horror’ by Bring Me The Horizon is out now on Sony Music Entertainment / RCA Records.