By Marvin Dotiyal, Features Editor
Key tracks: “ouch”, “mother tongue”, “heavy metal (feat. Rahzel)”
Bring Me the Horizon’s career has been controversial since day one; from metalheads bashing the “pseudo-metal” image of the band to fans complaining that “Drown” wasn’t heavy enough, the hate for Bring Me the Horizon always remains — despite how short Oli Sykes cuts his hair. BMTH are an easy target, and it has become a trend to call them posers with every release. However, amo finally answers the “why” of the band’s predicament.
“Amo,” meaning love in Portuguese, reveals Sykes’ new chapter after divorcing his ex-wife, Hannah Snowdon, and starting fresh with a clean slate. Although the lyrical themes deal with the complex issues of trauma and divorce, a majority of the songs were inspired by his love for his new wife.
Genre-blending and genre-bending at best, the band takes a bold trajectory that not many artists have succeeded in. The electronica influence is overwhelmingly prominent, exhibiting auditory flashes of everything from gritty, modern trap to synthy Euro-trance. Accompanied by Grimes’ heavenly melodies, “nihilist blues” is as electronic and neon as it gets, while “ouch” is a grand amalgamation of rhythms that resemble a trap and breakbeat crossover. Sykes’ passion for electronic music has always existed; you could say this was his dream come true or even the final form of his early electronic project, Olisaurus.
“Mother Tongue” is what the Chainsmokers would sound like if they knew how to write exceptionally good songs. Although the song has generic pop written all over it, the smooth movement of melody makes the chorus more than a memorable hook. Songs like “medicine” capture the same feel, also recycling their lyrics from Sempiternal’s “Antivist”: “‘Cause I’m sick to death of swallowing.” While there are fillers that are hit-or-miss, the transitions flow seamlessly from track to track.
Anyone who listened to “Pray For Plagues” back in BMTH’s deathcore days would never guess that amo is by the same band. But at least Sykes makes it clear: “‘Cause some kid on the ‘gram said he used to be a fan / But this shit ain’t heavy metal.” Though simple, the crunchy metal riff becomes a stubborn earworm in “heavy metal”, joined by a clean beatboxing performance by Rahzel. Still, they attempt to appease the “kid on the ‘gram in a Black Dahlia tank,” teasing with a breakdown in the last few seconds.
Amo is an oddly nuanced album, and there will be negative reception without a doubt. For one, it is like a side project between Sykes and keyboardist Jordan Fish, leaving little space for the rest of the band members. That’s the Spirit was a divisive upheaval, but amo smooths out the edges and transcends the sound even further to not only sell out stadiums but also to find a medium that allows them to explore new avenues and new fans. They relentlessly take on new experiments and adapt relatively as trends come and go, generating mixed reactions. It’s an endless cycle of fueling hate and taking that energy to great heights. Amo is a product of that cyclical phenomenon–and proof that they have always been ahead of the curve.