Bring Me The Horizon's Australian return is a showcase of their versatility
Bring Me The Horizon has always been a passion project that ambitiously ended up on an international scale. When the UK outfit formed back in 2004, as a bunch of teenagers, it was primarily the result of American metalcore acts lighting a fire inside them. Their first album, 2006's Count Your Blessings, was a dark, thunderous night sky, scattered with breakdowns and piercing screams that continued well into their breakthrough LPs: Suicide Season and There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is A Heaven, Let’s Keep It A Secret. Fans immediately hooked onto the heaving wave of a genre built on bodies moving in unison with riffs and, in this case, the spiritual experience of preaching “the higher I get, the lower I’ll sink, I can’t drown my demons, they know how to swim.”
This commotion and yearning to exert huge walls of sound continued for years while the band played everything from Warped Tour to our very own Soundwave Festival, but like many artists throughout history, it was time for a Bring Me The Horizon renaissance. The Sheffield thrashers had been setting stages alight across the globe for over a decade by the time they released their fifth album That’s The Spirit; an album that pushed the conventional Bring Me The Horizon sound and distorted any assumptions one could make about where they were heading. It was time for a change, to take their existing therapeutic foundation and level up to an encompassing experimental state.
Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena housed the current chaos of Bring Me The Horizon on Friday night for their second of three Australian shows on this humble ‘First Love’ tour. Keeping in theme with That’s The Spirit and amo, the night showcased the best of both hook-driven singles and their classic heavier counterparts, with fans eating up every part of the set. This was more than just an average arena tour - leaning on cinematic visuals to create an immersive world around the band’s newfound explosive pop demeanour. Each part of the venue – from ever-changing stage setups and confetti canons to the carefully curated set of electro-pop songs played between sets – enhanced their shift towards both mainstream stadium rock and pop realms, rather than shying away from what many diehard fans initially found questionable.
In a very welcome move, Bring Me The Horizon kicked off with MANTRA, one of the defining singles to come out of the sonic palette that is BMTH 2.0 and a fan favourite from their latest album amo. Any doubts as to how new material would translate live were instantly crushed as everyone from the tight-knit pit to the back-stall seats was encompassed by thick riffs layered with refreshing yet hypnotic robot utterings of “mantra.” Avalanche kept momentum, while Happy Song pummelled eardrums with an S-P-I-R-I-T chant supercut with sludgy textures and vocalist Oli Sykes’ taking a distinct melodic route.
Gone was the cold, often distant hardness of a band that founded itself in vein of American metalcore outfits, and in its place stood one that celebrated growth and vibrancy without compromising any cathartic, body-trembling heaviness. The track listing was roughly split in thirds between ammo, That’s The Spirit and Sempiternal, diving into cuts like wonderful life and Shadow Moses, in a set that could’ve easily been deemed a ‘best of’ from the past few years. The entire show was tailored incredibly to show the versatility of Bring Me The Horizon as a whole project rather than just a band throwing together a few numbers and calling it a day; an ambient instrumental interlude, for example, took prime position front and centre exactly halfway through the set, featuring floaty organic visuals looping on the big screens. Similarly, Sykes sat perched on the end of the stage at one point for an acoustic rendition of Drown that provided solace amongst the cacophony dominating Sydney that night.
Make no mistake though, Bring Me The Horizon still aren’t here to fuck around. Antivist weighed in on the heavier scale, showing Sykes still has the same anti-establishment, take charge of your world stance, urging everyone to throw their middle fingers up in the name of how messed up the world is right now. He still spat fire at the crowd in the form of asking them to “wake the fuck up” and start a chain of hellish pits across the floor, and encouraged everyone to lose their minds in some kind of ferocious defiance against the claims “everyone says Bring Me The Horizon is going soft.” Of course, there’s a newfound maturity and creativity, but it’s never at the expense of the raw passion and chaotic-good energy that has and always will reside at the heart of the five-piece.
Aside from a disastrous call for Sykes to do a shoey (resulting in Sydney punters missing out on the infamous deathcore medley – you win this time Melbourne), the night went down smoothly. All the hallmark signs of a quality heavy show were there, found in the circle pits and wall of deaths on the floor, right up to the kids in the back row screaming their heart out word-for-word in time with the band. Friday night was a showcase of the most interesting parts of Bring Me The Horizon, a sonic timeline of where they’ve come from and where they’re heading, and a testament to why they’re still kicking on strong years later. The ‘First Love’ tour was a chance for Sykes and Jordan Fish to flex their experimental sides and create a concert experience that stretches into a theatrical territory and, my god, did they run with it.
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