amo begins with the two minute, seventeen second “i apologise if you feel something.” Feathery synths melt into the different pitched vocals of lead singer Oliver Sykes that comes together with a drum and bass like beat pattern. “It should never be a prison
So I apologise if you feel something.” The lyrics are softly sung like a melancholy maelstrom that you are about to get tossed around in.
Love can be eternal. It can also be fleeting and unforgiving. It’s the ultimate expression of vulnerability although it may backfire because you have no control of the other party involved. As stated in an interview with NME, there’s a three pronged meaning to the title of the album. The act of loving, using love as a weapon, and as Sykes noted, the European Portuguese translation to “master.”
It’s not just limited to a personal love. In part, the album is inspired by the loss of personal love with Sykes’ divorce. But it is also love externally, from fan and the world. It’s been four years since the release of 2015’s That’s the Spirit – a change in direction that brought the band to a new audience much to the dismay of older listeners. As you go through this 13-song album, the band doesn’t limit themselves musically or lyrically to express these emotions.
The two singles, “Mantra” and “Wonderful Life,” are almost like smokescreens. “Mantra” itself embodies more of the alternative rock aspect that BMTH followed with 2015’s That’s the Spirit. “Wonderful Life” is more of a darker tone, complete with a hard breakdown during the bridge and chorus and help from Cradle of Filth’s Dani Filth. Guitarist Lee Malia and bassist Matt Kean get to play off each other in a dynamic that fans are used to. For those who are looking for harder riffs, there is “Sugar Honey Ice & Tea,” which has a more biting, dirty, and metal feel. As the song progresses and continues a more melodic road with the chorus, Sykes loses composure right into a solo from Malia. It proves that even though the more deathcore screams and time signatures are gone, the band still knows how to show an edge in a new way.
Bring Me the Horizon as a band has always dabbled in including electronics within their music, whether it be subtle glitches or replays. “nihilist blues,” which features the eerie and atmospheric vocals of Grimes, plays like a dark rave occurring inside a person that’s lost all semblance of hope. Normally, with the more electronic songs like “Shadow Moses,” the guitars are predominant with the electronics there to add weight. With this song, the electronics take the main floor with the guitars acting as the background anchor.
The track “Ouch” plays like a jazz infused collaboration between drummer Matt Nicholls and Jordan Fish, trading programmed beats and percussion back and forth like a battle you would see on a live stage. The inclusions of moody and free flowing interludes such as “Fresh Bruises” act like bookmarks or acts in a play. They add a brevity to the gang of expression that is being displayed. Produced by both Fish and Sykes, amo shows that the band has grown as songwriters. There are tighter composition and song structures here.
That’s the Spirit laid down the foundation for the band to venture into more mainstream territories. “Medicine,” is where the band completely commits to an alternative rock/pop medium with good results. Sykes’ voice, which has improved even more since That’s the Spirit, couples with how the instrumentation is seemly able to go in different directions almost on the fly. “Mother Tongue,” another thematic pop-rock is where we turn the corner as far as how new, unexpected love can rebuild you after the world comes down.
The composition of “Heavy Metal” is the most interesting because it goes along with how the band has grown over the years. The song is complete with down-tuned guitars but includes beatboxer/rapper Rahzel who adds his own touch to mix genres intentionally. The cadence of how the verses are sung are a hip-hop signature that goes into the bridge. It’s the band letting fans know that they have always been an ever changing entity.
“i don’t know what to say” ends the album on a somber note. No doubt inspired by the band’s concert at Royal Albert Hall in 2016, the song adds an orchestral component as Sykes preemptively says goodbye to a dear friend who passed away from cancer. If there’s a lesson with amo, it’s that change is a constant – whether good or bad. Whether you are ready for it or not.
amo is a journey that is meant to be taken within an entire sitting. If you don’t listen with intent to take all the layers and emotions in like vapor, you might miss something vital. Perhaps, more than one listen. The way that Bring Me The Horizon weaves through genres and dives into them further is challenging. Sometimes, like life, challenges provide better experiences. Love is challenging. So is music. That’s The Spirit provided a platform to a band that wanted to grow from the post-hardcore cocoon that provided them solace. With every subsequent release, the band doesn’t necessary want to forget their past completely but want to tell the story of present.