When the Guardian launched a poll to find out what its readers reckoned should win the Mercury Prize yesterday, they probably didn't figure they'd be looking at a landslide victory for Bring Me The Horizon's third album 'There Is A Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is A Heaven, Let's Keep It A Secret' - but that is equally what ended up happening.
Course, this being an online poll, this can be easily explained. Some acts are blessed with fanbases that take devotional to a whole new place, and BMTH are one of those bands. Thus when their official Facebook page pointed to the poll, their devotees clicked in their thousands, giving the band over 40 per cent of the vote so far, four times what PJ Harvey's 'Let England Shake' has got, which is most people's favourite for the prize.
Naturally, as with everything the Sheffield noiseniks seem to put their name to, the backlash kicked in and the patronising comments began to rain down, with BMTH's voters being dismissed as young and stupid and some even calling for the vote to scrapped altogether.
Thing is though, while broadsheet trolls may scoff and turn on the James Blake record once again, a far bigger question arises: "Why the hell shouldn't Bring Me The Horizon be in contention for the Mercury?"
Photo: Joe Winn
The Mercury is supposed to celebrate the best album of any genre, it has no divine right to be won by an indie band, or the kind of artists indie types like to talk up to make them sound diverse. It would make a fantastic change if BMTH took the prize home and it would also be well deserved.
As well as 'This Is Hell…' being one of the best albums of year, it actually ticks quite a few of the boxes the Mercury has always seemed to celebrate. Firstly, BMTH are British, second, 'This Is Hell' is extremely innovative, especially given that the band are working with a genre with well established music formulas and an audience frequently labelled as ill receptive to change.
Sure there are the barrelling guitar riffs and brutal breakdowns that have defined metal core as a genre, but there are also cleverly interwoven electronic samples, orchestral overtures and even a female vocal (Canadian electro artist Lights, check her out, she's ace) on two tracks.
It's complex, it's hooky as hell and there not one skippable track on the whole LP. Finally, it's brought a whole swath of new fans into a genre where the UK has been spent the last 20 years getting it's ass kicked by the States and turned BMTH into a band that can sell out big venues right across the world.
Imagine if they did win. Sure you'd get a couple of weekends of ageing Sunday supplement editors scratching their heads and saying to each other "I supposed we’d better run something on this Bring Us The Horizontal", but they'd be brought to a another whole new audience. And if there's one thing BMTH have shown us in their career so far, it's that they have no problem at all winning people over.
Who Should Win The Mercury Music Prize? - Vote