Bring Me The Horizon have done it again, folks.
After laughing in the face of genre boundaries with 2019’s amo, the Sheffield 5-piece have once again shaken things up, offering the first in a series of gritty, experimental EPs in the form of POST HUMAN: Survival Horror. Recorded in what we now, unfortunately, know as the first lockdown in the UK and dropping just as the widespread speculation of another shutdown began, the record is filled to the brim with eerie likenesses to the situation many of us currently find ourselves in. Some are, of course, intended, while others are uncanny but accidental.
The first two singles, “Ludens” and “Parasite Eve” are the most noticeable examples of this. Both inspired by games (the former was released as a soundtrack for Death Stranding, while “Parasite Eve” drew its inspiration from the 1990s video game of the same name), both incredibly reflective of real life. “How do I form a connection/When we can’t even shake hands?” was a question first posed by Sykes in November of last year. It was surely seen as a throwaway comment when first heard. Now, not so much. “Parasite Eve” is naturally filled to the brim with references to the pandemic. “When we forget the infection/Will we remember the lesson” — as of now, the answer to that question is a resounding “no”.
Looking at the record as a whole, it is sonically a case of evolving and building on the previous two records, rather than hitting the reset button and starting again. Everything is more polished, more certain and more like the Bring Me The Horizon that many of us have come to know. That’s in no way a jab at amo or Music to Listen to…, both were solid and we likely wouldn’t have gotten the record we did here without them.
Lyrically, it’s an entirely different conversation. Gone are the softer vocals, gone are the feelings of love, gone is any positive energy we felt in previous records. Everything from amo in a songwriting sense has been completely thrown out of the window. Soft vocals have been exchanged for guttural screams. Synth elements have been put on the back burner in favour of emotionally charged, guitar-led song structures that the group have excelled at for years. Happiness has been infected with anger, confusion and sadness. This is not a happy EP. It’s an aggressive statement about the world we live in.
We kick things off with “Dear Diary”, a furious, violent cyberpunk assault on the ears that sets the tone for the next half an hour. Harsh vocals, a guitar solo from Lee Malia (yes, an actual guitar solo from modern-day Bring Me The Horizon, what even is 2020?) and a breakdown that marks the first of many subtle homages to the bands of old; with the heavy riff paying tribute to Deftones’ “Swerve City”. The song is probably the heaviest thing we’ve heard since 2013’s Sempiternal; with electronic metalcore elements of old, the aforementioned gutturals and thunderous drumming from Matt Nicholls. It instantly sets the tone for the rest of the record. This is the group dawning in a new age. Not just in music, but across society as a whole. We’re bored, locked away and angry. There are very few hopes for the future right now, which “Dear Diary” illustrates brilliantly.
Elsewhere in the record is “Teardrops”, a reflection of society’s numbness to tragedy that takes us straight back to 2003 with a chord progression that mirrors that of Linkin Park’s “Somewhere I Belong”. The likening to Linkin Park could be applied to the whole record, in all fairness. The blend of clean and harsh, soft and heavy, calculated and chaotic in this record bears similar to the likes of Meteora.
Obey (Feat. YUNGBLUD)
We then move to “Obey”, a pop-punk powerhouse of a song featuring brash upstart YUNGBLUD. It’s a clear middle finger to the establishment, a fight against corruption—with such issues being relevant, it should’ve been a home run. Instead, it feels flat. The core idea that they have is essentially what Bring Me the Horizon have been doing for the past 16 years. They’re not going to play by anybody else’s rules, but we all knew that. For a band that has made such a name for themselves out of trying something new at every opportunity, this is somewhat disappointing. It’s by no means a bad effort, but it definitely takes away from the record as a whole, no matter how brilliant and experimental the group gets elsewhere.
Itch For The Cure/Kingslayer (Feat. BABYMETAL)
After an almost relentless 15 minutes or so, we get some time to breathe with “Itch For The Cure (When Will We Be Free?)”. As we found out in the YouTube series, this was simply a collection of sounds sent by Mick Gordon that the group wanted to make use of. A brilliant use of loose materials which leads us straight into a J-Metal, Kawaii onslaught that is “Kingslayer”, featuring Japanese duo BABYMETAL. It’s quickly become a fan favourite, a nightmarish rave anthem containing a perfect blend of dance, electronic and metalcore elements to provide a sense of familiarity as we explore an unfamiliar musical world.
1×1 (Feat. Nova Twins)
Bring Me then moves their focus to continue the revival of the nu-metal scene, inviting the Nova Twins for collaboration in the form of “1×1”. A focus on mental health (“So why you keep acting like I don’t exist?/Yeah, feel like I’m ready to die, but I can’t commit”), identity issues and other crucial topics, delivered alongside yet another showcase of the stellar female talent in the scene right now. It was hit and miss for a lot of people upon release (myself included) but has become somewhat of a cult favourite over time.
One Day The Only Butterflies Left will Be In Your Chest As You March Towards Your Death (Feat. Amy Lee)
After addressing such important themes through lyrics while maintaining the harsher vocals throughout the album, we close with a major surprise. Sykes gives his most emphatic vocal performance to date alongside Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee in closing track (*deep breath*) “One Day The Only Butterflies Left Will Be in Your Chest As You March Towards Your Death”. Surprisingly elegant and much gentler than many were expecting, the track is a sharp turn away from everything we’ve heard on the record to this point.
After half an hour of breakdowns, angst and guitar-based attacks on our ears, we end with a breathy, emotional powerhouse. It’s a wonderful change of pace that makes this song stand out from the rest of the pack. Lee brings a sense of regality to an otherwise chaotic record; maintaining the meaningful, emotional driving force that all the songs have but with a cleaner, more calculated backdrop.
The album closes with what is very much a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ scream and a deep piano note, which will likely lead us seamlessly into the next EP.
Post Human could’ve easily been a jumbled mess that ruined this group’s reputation. An act of sabotage. A failed experiment. But once again, their unmatched ambition and desire to push their creative boundaries as much as possible has translated wonderfully in execution, allowing them to pull off something truly brilliant. If they’re committed to revolutionising the scene, they’re definitely taking the right steps. There was something to sate the needs of everyone. The hardcore OG fans wanting Count Your Blessings-esque brutality. Pop enthusiasts. Those wanting influences from Sempiternal and There is a Hell…
This was relatable, current, and completely unexpected. Same old Bring Me The Horizon. Exactly what we needed in the horror show that is 2020.