“Pull the fucking tampon out and show me what you got!” That’s Bring Me The Horizon frontman Ollie Sykes, trying his absolute hardest to force the vast crowd in front of him to form a circle pit that swallows Reading whole. He’s not pleased with their efforts. “Is that what you call a pit, like? Fucking pathetic.” We’re a song into the Sheffield quintet’s Main Stage performance, an hour-long splurge of classic metal riffs, machine gun drums, bowel-churning bass eruptions, smoke jets and about a million crazy do-it-or-die instructions from Sykes. Having abandoned their screamy metalcore roots for a cleaner sound, Bring Me The Horizon are here opening for Metallica, and they’re out to prove they can blow their forefathers out of the water, using the following weapons…
The tampon comment is the tip of the iceberg. After that, the frontman proceeds to inform us that “THIS IS FUCKING IT!” every minute or so, each time more intense than the last. He screams at the crowd before, during and after every song, desperate for everyone to share whatever apocalyptic image it is that’s filling his head. Before the cataclysmic noise of ‘Chelsea Smile’, he adopts a Christ-like position and screams, “Fucking move! I said fucking move! JUUUUUUMPP! DON’T YOU DARE EVER STOP!!” This is a man – with boyband good looks and a glistening, tattooed torso – who believes his band is more powerful than nature.
After a female voice urges everyone to “take narcotics before the show”, Bring Me The Horizon open with ‘Happy Song’, taken from ‘That’s The Spirit’, their fifth album. The record’s not out for two weeks, but Reading is ravenous for it. After devouring the the opener – hooky, radio-ready verses and a throat-rupturing chorus – there are two more new songs to feast on. First is ‘Throne’, which sounds like Linkin Park being swallowed by Skrillex. Bonus points for the naff images of wolves on the big screens as Sykes sings “So you can throw me to the wolves” in the chorus. They finish with ‘Drown’ a seismic cry for help and a transparent shot at Radio 1’s A-list that has Sykes smearing the sweat on his chest and shouting ”Who will fix me now?”
Huge jets of the stuff. If you press ‘GO’ on a smoke machine often enough, people will freak out. That the WHOOSH of cannons makes people jump, even among the ridiculous noise coming from the stage, proves they were worth bringing.
“I’m gonna be a bit cheeky and ask everyone to sit down,” says you know who towards the end of the set. “I SAID SIT THE FUCK DOWN! NOW! ALL OF YOU!” Reading sits, like a naughty year nine class. Minutes later, the frontman has everyone not only stood up again, but climbing onto each other’s shoulders. What prompts such obedience? Sheer positivity. The singer is eager to ensure we all leave happy, so he keeps telling us how great we are (“You’re the best, really. Make some noise for yourselves”). But the sweetest moment comes when he wanders to the edge of the stage grinning and says, “Alright love? How you doing mate? Good to see you, thanks for coming.”
Nine years ago, when Bring Me The Horizon released their uncompromising – and derided – deathcore debut, ‘Count Your Blessings’, the idea of them one day putting out a record of nu-metal hooks, squealing guitars, subtle electronic effects and actual singing was inconceivable. In two weeks they’re doing exactly that. ‘That’s The Spirit’ will push the band as far from their roots as they’ve ever dared to go. And they had the balls to unveil it at Reading.