Batting away years of controversy and criticism, Bring Me The Horizon have remained steadfast in their ambition. Citing the stratospheric success of groups like Twenty One Pilots along the way, their climb has been gradual, each step towards stardom all the sweeter for it. But where last album ‘That’s The Spirit’ saw them take their long-awaited leap into arenas, new single ‘Mantra’ shoots straight for stadiums.
Opening with a twisted, glitchy electronica intro (one which wouldn’t feel out of place on a Death Grips LP), Sykes’ promise of a ‘weirder and darker’ Bring Me The Horizon looks set to come to fruition – that is, until it all explodes into that festival-headline-baiting chorus. It’s a track built for huge stages and framed by that aforementioned ambition – one that feels lightyears ahead of the bratty metalcore of the band’s past.
The electronic elements that Bring Me The Horizon have tinkered with for over a decade now nestle perfectly among their downtuned riffing, adding atmosphere rather than jarring against the guitar-bass-and-double-kick-drums of their background. Their last record’s introduction of keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Jordan Fish finally comes into its own with a twinkling middle-eight, while the synthy embellishments he adds to guitarist Lee Malia’s gnarled riffs hit like the barrel-thwacking sonics of Slipknot. Where ‘That’s The Spirit’ saw BMTH swing towards pop-rock more than ever before, ‘Mantra’ brings that new box of tricks back to the gutter.
Through it all, though, it remains resolutely Bring Me The Horizon. Sykes’ vocal – which sounded strained and untrained on points of ‘That’s The Spirit’ – is now an unmistakable presence, his crackling vocal chords and delicate lisp adding a character most grizzly-voiced rock frontmen could only dream of. The subject matter, meanwhile, treads familiar ground – betrayal, “existential misery” and religious indoctrination – without ever veering towards the occasional cliché that marred BMTH gone by.
‘Mantra’, then, isn’t quite the sonic leap many were predicting for Bring Me The Horizon’s sixth LP – and it’s certainly not the pop prospect old-school fans were fearing. A refining of everything that’s steadily made them arena-botherers, it finds BMTH regrouping and refining their assault. With tracks like this under their belt, Bring Me The Horizon might finally silence the naysayers. If you’ll excuse the low-hanging pun, festival headline slots are surely on the horizon.