Fourteen years ago, Bring Me The Horizon first paved their way onto the music scene with the release of their debut album, Count Your Blessings. Well-known for their early deathcore/metalcore roots, BMTH has produced a diverse discography with a significant shift in sound throughout their career.
2019’s amo helped the band come one step closer to world domination, earning a new level of commercial success and claiming their title as a Grammy nominated band. The Sheffield quintet — consisting of vocalist Oliver Sykes, guitarist Lee Malia, bassist Matt Kean, drummer Matt Nicholls, and keyboardist Jordan Fish — has showcased their versatility and unpredictability as musicians, consistently bending genres and breaking all of the rules in the music game. Bring Me’s new material only further validates this statement.
Now it’s time to strap in and buckle up for the highly-anticipated Post Human: Survival Horror EP — released October 30, 2020 via Sony Music. Video game composer, Mick Gordon (Doom + Doom Eternal), worked closely with BMTH on this record’s production, an evident fact because this album sounds like a frenzied real-life survival game — and I mean that in the very best possible way.
This dystopian, horror-themed record takes you on a compelling apocalyptic journey filled with eclectic compositions that convey an array of mixed emotions: anger, fear, paranoia, frustration, confusion, and sadness.
Opening track “Dear Diary” wastes no time — kicking off with some distortion, intense riffage, and harsh, aggressive vocals from Oli, including a variety of unclean vocals, deep growls and high screams. Seriously, this song doesn’t even give you a chance to catch your breath. It blasts off at full force, blowing you away within the first thirty seconds as it threatens to melt your face off. The song’s theme spins a narrative that sounds like a series of diary entries, as it unfolds the events of a world that’s entered lockdown and the narrator slowly begins to lose his mind and make his descent into insanity.
“What the hell is happening?”
Several lyrics stand out in this track, including Resident Evil references to the T-virus (“tasty, itchy”) and the rather comedic line: “dear diary, dog stopped barking // probably ‘cause I ate its face.” I love one part towards the end of the song, where Oli makes a comment laced in sarcasm: “Ah, nevermind, it’s not the end of the world… Oh wait” and then laughs halfway through his scream as “Dear Diary” concludes.
“Parasite Eve” features an ominous intro and an eerie electronic pre-chorus: “Please remain calm. The end has arrived. We cannot save you, enjoy the ride. // This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Don’t call it a warning, this is a war.” There is also a clever wordplay thrown into the bridge that incorporates verses from a children’s nursery rhyme. This song was the second single to drop — an industrial track that was inspired when Sykes read about a super-resistant Japanese superbug. Now the track takes on a new meaning as it has mutated to address the current circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
Sykes recently made a statement to NME about the meaning of “Parasite Eve”:
“‘Parasite Eve’ was about the dawn of a new problem that mankind was going to face. I was getting anxious, feeling that this could be our future. I wrote it before COVID, and we talked a lot about whether or not we should release it. We were worried if it was offensive. The line, ‘When we forget the infection / Will we remember the lesson?’ was originally ‘If we survive the infection…’. That line just shook me at first because people were actually dying. Then we thought, ‘People need this, actually’, to get a cathartic experience from music and process things a little bit — even if it is dark. That really cemented what we wanted to do with this record and what the rest of the album was going to be themed around.”
The music video for “Parasite Eve” was created in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which prompted the members to take a different creative approach in order to put the visuals together. Everyone filmed their video parts separately due to the social distancing restrictions that were set in place. With limited crew, budgets, and equipment, Bring Me utilized their minimal resources and added their own DIY flair. Sykes cited his inspirations for the video — drawing from some of his favorite comic book characters and anime, like Tokyo Ghoul and Venom. He listed a video game called Hellblade as another influential element. Sykes also took direct inspiration from an unreleased film called The Inferno Unseen.
“Teardrops” is the band’s most recent single, and definitely one of the most relatable tracks that Bring Me has ever written. The song not only addresses mental health struggles, but also acknowledges how numb we’ve become to tragedies, being exposed to bad news in the headlines everyday: “I’m running out of teardrops. Let it hurt ‘til it stops. // I can’t keep my grip, I’m slipping away from me. // Oh god, everything is so fucked. But I can’t feel a thing… // The emptiness is heavier than you think.”
“Obey” is the first taste of collaborations that was unveiled from Post Human: Survival Horror, featuring Doncaster pop-punk artist YUNGBLUD (born Dominic Harrison). BMTH took advantage of the opportunity to include Dom throughout the song, rather than just showcase his guest appearance in only one section. Upbeat and lively, this fast-paced track is filled with angst, serving up major punk vibes as Oli and YUNGBLUD bounce off each other effortlessly, their voices complimenting each other so well.
“Obey” is a call to arms. Listeners are encouraged to open their eyes, take action, and become more aware of what is happening in the world. An earnest plea to no longer lead a stagnant life and blindly follow others, especially self-seeking authoritative figures who are only out to fulfill their selfish desires for wealth and power. The irony in the lyrics convey the message of the dire need to break away the invisible chains and not obey. “Obey. We hope you have a lovely day. // Obey. You don’t want us to come out and play. Away, now now. // There’s nothing to see here. It’s under control. We’re only gambling with your soul. // Obey. Whatever you do, just don’t wake up and smell the corruption.”
Sykes spoke about the meaning of the song:
“We consider ourselves free but only because the chains are invisible, and we are controlled in ways we don’t even want to think about. They tell us how to live with a smile on their face, like shit ain’t fucked up, inform us of tragic statistics like it’s nothing… it’s a weird world.”
YUNGBLUD followed up saying, “They try to keep us divided because it makes us weaker. Robots follow robots, because they feel nothing at all. But what they don’t realize is that to us, to be different is to be free and a world of fucking love and equality is a world we want to be part of. We will rise above the hate and the diversion. We will fight for the world we want to be a part of. We will not obey.”
Prior to dropping the single, promotional images of Oli and YUNGBLUD covered in blood and caped attire were released across social media. However, the “Obey” music video was an unexpected move, as it did not incorporate any of these themes. There was no blood or dressed in robes. Instead, the visuals are fun and action-packed — with Oli and YUNGBLUD sitting inside two giant robots. The robots walk alone in a dystopian city until their paths finally cross. Everything breaks loose as they start fighting, leaving an array of destruction and debris in their wake. Ultimately, the battle ends when suddenly, the robots share a dramatic kiss, and walk off together into the sunset.
BMTH delivers some serious Linkin Park vibes — this nu-metal influence is especially evident in “Itch For The Cure (When Will We Be Free?),” an electronically-driven interlude track with spoken word samples from Oli, building up to the next song and seamlessly transitioning into “Kingslayer.” This instrumental piece is a direct reference to LP’s “Cure For The Itch.”
“Kingslayer” feels like ‘Bring Me The Horizon: The Anime.’ This addicting track is uniquely structured as it embraces the contrasting elements of sweet BABYMETAL and Oli’s unclean vocals, reminiscent of Bring Me’s early roots with his range of growls and guttural screams, injected with a fusion of metalcore riffs and a ceaseless wildly chaotic background. There is one word to sum up this “Kingslayer” collab: EPIC.
“Kingslayer, destroying castles in the sky. // I’ll fight for you until the day I die.”
“1X1” features British power duo Nova Twins, who deliver some fierce female attitude to the track. Oli puts his vulnerability on display with heavy-hitting lyrics: “I feel like I’m ready to die but I can’t commit. So I ask myself, when will I learn? // I’d set myself on fire to feel the burn. I’m scared that I’m never going to be repaired.”
The chorus is brutally authentic, as Oli lays his heart on his sleeve:
“Put me out of my misery. My mind feels like an archenemy. Can’t look me in the eyes. // I don’t know what hurts the most, holding on or letting go. // Reliving my memories. And they’re killing me one by one.”
“Ludens” is the first introduction we received to the Post Human world, a track written for the soundtrack to Hideo Kojima’s PS4 game Death Stranding. The 2019 single provided a sample of the birth of this new musical project, and provided us with some insight of what was yet to come.
In an interview with NME, vocalist Oli Sykes discussed “Ludens” and his love for video games:
“It doesn’t sound like anything off ‘amo’ but it doesn’t sound like anything off of any of our records. It hits a different tone. We had to write it in five days. We’ve been talking about this with Sony and Kojima for quite awhile. I was really excited because I loved Metal Gear Solid and Kojima is just my favorite developer, he’s a legend.”
Sykes later continued: “I wanted it to be connected to the video game, but I didn’t want to sing directly about that. I looked at Kojima’s whole ethos, went on his website, and as it was loading it came up with this thing that said, ‘We’re not homosapiens, we’re homoludens.’ It’s Latin for ‘player’ and it’s all about how he believes that our creativity is our greatest asset and the biggest hope for mankind. It said something along the lines that even if all flowers die and the world is at an endpoint, there would still be hope if there were humans on the planet because we find ways to adapt.”
The music video opens with the band’s ‘Antivist’ logo flashing behind Sykes’ silhouette. Death Stranding gameplay footage is featured throughout the video, while BMTH performs to a crowd in a strange world inhabited by mythical creatures.
The closer stands out as the particular highlight of the record — a powerful duet with Amy Lee of Evanescence. This collab opportunity was a silver lining that developed in an unusual way. On amo track “Nihilist Blues,” the band subconsciously ripped off one of Evanescence’s song verses (“Never Go Back”). After offering to share a songwriting credit with Lee and settling an agreement, Evanescence’s management reached out to the Sheffield musicians, expressing how much Amy was a fan of the band and how she would love to work with them.
“One Day The Only Butterflies Left Will Be In Your Chest As You March Towards Your Death” conjures up some dark magic with an emotional piano ballad that delivers a somber note. This track could easily be perceived as a love song, but it’s actually narrating the abusive relationship between mankind and nature – with Amy being ‘Mother Earth,’ and Oli playing the role of mankind — a message that Oli snuck into the EP, as it’s an issue he’s wanted to bring to light for quite some time. The melancholic track is hauntingly beautiful; Amy and Oli captivate with their harmonious vocal performances, as Amy’s angelic vocals intertwine perfectly with Oli’s grittier, yet soulful vocal delivery. Oli burns bright in the closing track, exhibiting a softer side of himself — fragility in full bloom…
“So tell me, how’s it going to feel without my arms wrapped around, wrapped around you. // bet it feels pretty real when your skin starts to peel from the bone. // you were dead to the world. now I’m dead to you. // haunting your own house. nothing to lose. // I let you sink your fangs so deep // you know I can’t breathe on my own.”
“Butterflies” steadily builds up intensity throughout the composition, only to be met with an abrupt ending, leaving listeners stranded and longing for more.
Oli confirmed that this was an intentional decision, meant to hold the audience in suspense before picking up the narrative once again in the next Post Human chapter. This artistic decision shows how much the entire project is intercorrelated, and offers a small glimpse of how the next record could potentially begin.
Survival Horror marks the first entry out of four to be released from the band over the upcoming year. Frontman Oli Sykes confirmed details regarding the Post Human project, sharing that each of these four records will have very different tones to them.
“They’ll each be tonally different with their own sound and mood,” he continues. “That’s one thing we’ve never really done. There’s often been an over-arching theme on our records, but the music has always felt like a collage. That’s cool and I like it, but sometimes you want a soundtrack for a certain occasion and emotion.”
My personal favorite tracks from this EP are “Teardrops,” “1X1,” “Kingslayer,” and “One Day The Only Butterflies Left Will Be In Your Chest As You March Towards Your Death.”
There is no filler to be found whatsoever on this EP, as each song takes on a life of its own and serves their individual purpose. The collaborations shine brilliantly as the strongest material and allows every featured artist to flourish in their own way. Survival Horror presents social commentary that reflects on the decay and corruption of our society and government, our dying planet, and the degenerative conditions that we find ourselves suffering from within.
With this EP, the British lads have crafted a radiant cyberpunk gem – blending together all of the Bring Me components, and delivering blunt honesty, fused with heaviness and a sharp experimental edge – bleeding through with raw authenticity.
I’m already calling it – Post Human: Survival Horror is 2020’s EP of the year.
Post Human: Survival Horror is exactly what we needed this year – the nine tracks comprise all of the mixed emotions of life spent in isolation and sonically encompasses the difficult times we’ve endured. However, amongst all of this chaos, the truth is that we need art now more than ever before… There is no life without creative expression. Art is what keeps us going and continues to drive us forward.
This EP is a tumultuous ride down a long, beaten path in rocky terrain – a blazing red sky adorns the horizon, as the sun sinks low, with fire embers and debris floating around the atmosphere and settling into the earth. Post Human: Survival Horror justifiably proves that BMTH can do whatever the fuck they want and pull it off with a triumphant victory.
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Read more: Oli Sykes faces his demons in powerful BMTH video for “Teardrops”