Few words will elicit as many groans in the metal and alternative rock communities as these four: Bring Me the Horizon.
Often maligned by fans of both music genres as well as consistently garnering critical praise for their genre-mashing innovation, the band is predictably unpredictable. They are at their best when they are writing eclectic metal-influenced rock anthems with a healthy dose of electronica. It just so happens that the band’s latest release, following last year’s lackluster “amo,” is a collection of nine songs exactly like that.
The album (or EP, or whatever you want to call it, it’s a collection of nine songs clocking in at 32 minutes), is appropriately entitled in all caps, “POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR.” It is an absolute blast that adequately captures the paranoia and frustration of the COVID-19 pandemic. The title itself indicates the themes and aesthetic of the album, as does the captivating artwork.
The opening track, “Dear Diary,” is possibly the heaviest the band has sounded since its early metalcore days. The following track and first single, “Parasite Eve,” proposes the question, “When we forget the infection, will we remember the lesson?” It’s lines like these that show the growth and maturity of the band, not only musically, but also lyrically.
While their 2013 breakthrough album “Sempiternal” may remain the fan favorite, “POST HUMAN” is the band’s most outward-looking release. Their previous material was always self-reflecting and often self-flagellating, but this batch of songs is much more concerned with the collective consciousness. Despite the musical chaos, you get the sense that this chaos is not as disorderly as it seems, but carefully orchestrated.
Every single performance on “POST HUMAN” is top-notch, without a single weak track. Every track on this album would be a highlight on previous Bring Me albums. The brevity of “POST HUMAN” helps to provide a sense of immediacy and catharsis, something that all of their other albums have noticeably lacked. 2019’s “amo,” while it had a number of highlights, was often guilty of meandering and clunkily genre-hopping between songs.
The next few tracks are as mosh-worthy as anything the band has ever released, with the immensely catchy “Teardrops” and “Obey,” as well as the album highlight “Kingslayer,” which features the Japanese metal band BABYMETAL. “Kingslayer” is the best example of the band’s unique blend of electropop and metal.
The album doesn’t stop to take a breath until the final track, “One Day the Only Butterflies Left Will Be in Your Chest as You March Towards Your Death,” featuring Amy Lee of Evanescence, who sings a beautiful duet with lead singer Oli Sykes. The track is an ambitious ballad tackling climate change, using the format of a dialogue between mankind (Sykes) and the earth (Lee). It could have been an excruciatingly heavy-handed misfire of a track, but the two singers deliver wonderful performances with apocalyptically poetic lyrics and a lovely musical backdrop.
With “POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR,” Bring Me the Horizon have become masters at whatever it is they do. Call them a metal band or an alternative rock band, they don’t care. They are undeniably injecting new life into genres that have seen little innovation in decades, and with their recent prolific output, it doesn’t seem like they have any plans of stopping. 2020 has been a pressure-cooker of great albums due to the ongoing pandemic, and this is one of the best.