Aaron Kriever, Staff Writer
When bands abruptly change their musical style, one reason is that the band is expanding their capabilities and experiencing personal and collective growth. The other is that the band is trying to appeal to a larger, more casual audience by dumbing themselves down and attempting to appeal to the lowest common denominator. British quintet Bring Me The Horizon’s newest album, That’s The Spirit, not only falls, but dives headfirst into the second category.
The band has entirely abandoned the metalcore factor that got them to where they are today. Their previous album, Sempiternal, retained their original elements while providing a Minutes To Midnight-like exploration of genres. That’s The Spirit instead desperately attempts to gain fans of radio rock by following overly formulaic song styles. Vocalist Oli Sykes’ singing has never been something to admire, and his lyrics once again sound like they’re being written by an edgy 13-year old. At many times throughout the album it feels as if he is simply talking which kills the energy of some of the songs that normally have noenthusiasm in them anyway. In fact, upon watching some recent live videos, the band is either forced to pitch shift numerous songs down so that Sykes can sing them, or he just blatantly skips singing large sections and leaves them to backing tracks.
Synth keyboards, reverb, and delay-heavy clean guitars are the most interesting instruments in most of the songs, but their purpose is not to keep the energy going, nor are they capable of doing so. “Follow You,” one of the lightest songs on the album, may be the most thought out in terms of style. Most of the choruses, such as the ones in “Happy Song” and “Run,” suffer from the problem of being overly simple while not having enough unique characteristics that would make new listeners want to keep listening. On a positive note, there are a few songs that are easy to become enveloped in, like “Avalanche” and… “Avalanche.” The album closer, “Oh No,” is full of all of those pop music tropes we’ve had beaten into our heads, like endless background “whoa-oh’s” and vocals drowned in filter effects.
That’s The Spirit is an example of a band drastically changing their musical style to try to gain new fans, yet they don’t offer anything unique about themselves. Sure, Bring Me The Horizon is doing something “new” in the context of their own band, but in the process, they have ended up sounding like any number of radio pop-rock bands that have come and gone in the past few years. They’ve set themselves up on a long road of aimless music wandering, forced to either go nowhere and rewrite the same songs over again, or keep reinventing themselves for the sake of trying to stay relevant.