Friday, 3 May 2013

REVIEW: 'This is Sempiternal' - Bring Me The Horizon, Manchester Academy 2, 29/04/2013


Having only seen Sheffield 5 piece Bring Me The Horizon at Reading festival, I had a very preconceived perception of what their gig would be like. I'm the first to admit that I am a bit of a novice when it comes to live Metal, and the images I had in my head of long haired, horn-throwing old dudes were hard to shift.

Arriving at Manchester’s Academy 2, tucked away in Manchester University’s cavernous students union, my stereotypes dissolve like alka seltzer in water. For every ear-tunnelled, ripped plaid shirt sported by ageing dreadlocked men and women alike, there is a teenage couple holding hands, pointing Bring Me branded foam fingers and trying to ignore the presence of the reluctant parents that are chaperoning them for the night. With a uniform of Drop Dead, lead singer Oli Sykes very successful clothing line de-rigeur, a curious dichotomy of metal meets pop fandom is in the air. And tonight, that is what Bring Me The Horizon are, for all intents and purposes – a very professional, heavy, well-oiled pop band.

Cross Faith

Missing the first band thanks to an obscene queue for the women’s toilets, the academy is already sweating by the time Osaka’s Cross Faith take to the stage.  The Japanese 5 piece continue the odd paradox of hardcore riffs versus unashamed, almost hair metal showmanship, displaying relentless energy in the the metallic bleeps and bonks they play, like Enter Shikari but with a tougher bite. They boast an incredible drummer, a magician at work as he twirls his sticks between beats, hyping the already excitable audience – a great support act in the truest sense. With a cover of The Prodigy’s modern classic Omen spawning the first out and out moshpit of the night, they are certainly ones to watch.

Bring Me The Horizon
Opening with epic new single Shadow Moses, in a haze of dim stage lighting, one could be forgiven for thinking that tonight’s headliners are 30 Seconds To Mars. The sheer cinematic quality to the song, and indeed the ensuing material premiered tonight from Bring Me The Horizon’s fourth album, Sempiternal, marks the evolution of a band who have admitted to allowing pop and electronic sensibilities to mingle with their love of metalcore. It goes a long way to explain the eclectic crowd they have gathered, age demographic spanning decades but all united as they sing along devotedly to Oli Sykes howls and harmonies.

Despite his broad Yorkshire accent imploring his audience to ‘break some fucking bones’ and ‘punch someone in the ovaries’, Oli Sykes is definitely more McDonalds than Megadeth. This is to do them no disservice – they are certainly pack a heavy riff, definitely worthy of their metalcore standing. But, to put it frankly, there are a lot more harmonies and soaring singlong choruses than I was expecting – in fact, there are some downright masterful moments of radio rock songwriting, aided by that electronic edge that they pull off far more convincingly than most of their contemporaries. For the first time in their career, Bring Me The Horizon are allowing their frontman to sing instead of shout, and it does them a wealth of good. 
Oli Sykes 

Sleepwalking is a highlight, as is Alligator Blood, it’s brutality cruelly dimmed by what seems like a blown speaker. They carry on regardless with true professionalism, despite chants of 'turn it up' from the audience mingling with the activated fire alarm that threatens to shut down the gig, distracting at least half of the audience from the original purpose of the evening. This is until Go To Hell For Heaven’s Sake fires everybody back into action, the fringe that is the envy of thousands flipping around as Sykes shrieks like a rabid dog. If this sounds like an insult, it isn't - much like their support act, his effort is inspirational. 

Drawing their set together with more newbies in the form on Empire (Let Them Sing) and Antivist, Bring Me The Horizon leave after just 12 songs, but with the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands. Do I feel like I have been to the most brutal gig of my life? Perhaps not. But am I suitably impressed regardless? Most definitely.

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