Bring Me The Horizon: ‘Survival Horror Is Our Strongest Record’

25 August 2022 | 1:47 pm | Cat Woods

"We’ve got plans and windows we’re working with to keep [new music] moving forwards, but it’s hard, especially since most of our guys have families now. There’s real life to contend with, as well."

(Pic by Reece Owens)

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Bring Me The Horizon are readying to bring Post Human: Survival Horror in all its forbidding, riff-raging glory to Australian fans this December. Fronted by the charismatic, singular Oli Sykes, the British five-piece rockers have made a habit of producing chart hits and multi-platinum selling albums, selling out shows and headlining festivals. Australia's own Good Things Festival will be their stomping ground later this year, a festival that also boasts an epic metal-punk-hardcore line-up including Deftones, Soulfly, NOFX, The Amity Affliction and Millencolin.

When the band - Sykes, guitarist Lee Malia, bassist Matt Kean, drummer Mat Nicholls, co-writer and keyboardist Jordan Fish - take to the stage, it will be the first opportunity for Australian fans to hear the guttural punch of singes from their latest EP Post Human: Survival Horror including Parasite Eve, Obey, Ludens and sTraNgeRs delivered live and raw.

Speaking with The Music ahead of Good Things, Fish is in his car on the way from his home in the South of England to the band’s new studio, built a month ago, in Sykes’ garage in Sheffield. He is emphatic when it comes to the new album.

Survival Horror is probably my favourite record we’ve done,” he admits. “I think it’s our strongest record. That’s my opinion, I’m really proud of that record. Teardrops feels like the best song to represent what our band sounds like. That’s my favourite song to play live, it’s kinda bouncy, it’s got a little bit of everything that we do cooked into it… It was a tough one to write over Facetime in lockdown. It was an unusual way of working with lots of files back and forth, a different way of working. I’m proud of that song though, it came out really cool.”

The notoriously prolific band have cultivated their ability to write music whatever the obstacles: through lockdowns, relentless touring, and collaborations. While Teardrops happened digitally, single sTraNgeRs began in person, in LA.

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“The initial idea we wrote in LA when we were out there doing some writing at the end of last year, then we brought it back and we sat on it for ages. We were working on other stuff for a while,” concedes Fish.

When they finally agreed that it was time to “crack it”, the song took on a new shape in Sheffield.

“We rewrote the verse and changed the vibe of the song a bit from a really soft start, where the verses were quite chilled, to make it more of a kind of emo-rock route that served the song best. Then it all came together; we figured it out a couple of months ago.”

The band first debuted sTraNgeRs in May at their own curated festival, Weekender, in Malta. It’s a metalcore-pop ballad that recognises the enormity of the universe, and the paradoxical nature of humans being strangers, but also dependent upon each other purely because we are living in this moment, together. It is, as we’ve come to expect and desire from Sykes, a reminder that whatever divides us as humans is trivial in comparison to what we all have in common: spirit, life, consciousness and a shared planet.

Their new series of mini-albums has a much more outward gaze than their past albums, including their last full-length album amo, released in January of 2019. It peaked at the top of the ARIA Chart soon after. Their sixth album since Count Your Blessings in 2006, amo featured guests as luminary and diverse as Dani Filth (Cradle Of Filth) and Grimes. It proved – yet again- that Bring Me The Horizon have mastered collaborations, defying genre divides. In exploring so much musical territory, Fish says that the reason the band ultimately chose to release a series of EPs was to keep their palette cohesive.

“I think [the Post Human EP plan] was in response to amo and how we felt after that record. We felt like amo had two different vibes that are not necessarily coherent with each other, and kind of spray all over the place. There was a cyber, German dance music feeling, heavy tracks like Wonderful Life, and tracks like Medicine that were pop rock. It felt like it would be cool to do more theming, like mini-eras of the band, and not be constrained by releasing at a certain time and length of record.”

Though cohesive in theme and musical vibe, Post Human: Survival Horror boasts an all-star line-up of guests from across the metal, hip hop and pop spectrum: Amy Lee (Evanescence), Babymetal, Nova Twins and Yungblud. This EP is the first of a series of four mini-albums. The initial plan was to release all four within a year, but the stringent quality control that is central to the band's ethos demanded a longer timeframe.

The themes the EPs are tackling are, understandably, challenging territory to navigate over 12 months. The role of evolution, the behaviour of humans towards a natural world we are willingly destroying, our shared responsibilities and our individual ones: these are the timeless questions philosophers and artists have been investigating for centuries, but the urgency of climate change destroying the planet, rising mental ill health, and the growing intolerance for rebellion and protest globally have made Sykes' lyrics even more incisive and inclusive than ever.

Back in January of 2021, Fish told British music press, “We planned to do four EPs in a year, but the last one was almost an album, so I think the spacing will be a bit longer than intended, just because they’re probably going to turn out bigger than intended.”

I remind him of this, and he denies that he’d ever have said it. “Absolute fantasy!” he laughs.

“We thought we’d get them out quicker but the pandemic and everything slowed us down.”

Pressed for a schedule, he is wisely non-committal, offering that it may take five years. There will be work towards the second EP taking place in the garage today.

“We’re playing festivals pretty much every weekend, so we need time to go a little bit harder. We’ve got plans and windows we’re working with to keep it moving forwards, but it’s hard, especially since most of our guys have families now. There’s real life to contend with, as well,” Fish explains, himself a father of a five and a three-year-old.

Real life is warped through a dystopian lens on single Parasite Eve, in which Sykes describes a worldwide virus, isolation and infection. It was remarkably prescient, since Sykes wrote it before COVID. The distorted synths and pummelling guitars are the malevolent foundation for Sykes' alternating vocal range, between a thunderous roar and an unadorned, boyish tenor.

Elsewhere, his voice is warped and contorted, as on the unforgiving storm of layered vocal roars on Kingslayer. Sonic dissonance erupts into Sykes’ demand to "Wake the f**k up!" It's digi-metal horrorcore, in which the only reprieve is the sugary sweetness of Babymetal's Suzuka Nakamoto cooing "Kingslaaaayer". When billionaires are preparing their five-star rockets to take over the moon, because taking over Earth isn't sufficient, it feels cathartic to release all this pent-up frustration at the state of the world.

Sykes vocal dynamism and Fish’s well-honed ear for the interplay of melody and savagery has been channelled into recent collaborations with acts old and new, including guesting on Lotus Eater’s violent metal onslaught Obliterate, sultry pop banger No More Friends with Olivia O’Brien, Machine Gun Kelly’s Maybe, Masked Wolf’s Fallout and partnering with Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello on Let’s Get The Party Started.

The collaboration that surprised most of their respective fan bases, though, was Bring Me The Horizon and Ed Sheeran performing Bad Habits live at the Brit Awards in February. Sheeran approached the band via his management and theirs, a request which was misunderstood, at first.

“He contacted our management and said did we want to be his band for the opening of the Brits. Oli was like, ‘I don’t know if he wants me there or if he wants you guys to be, like, a backing band. Maybe it’s not going to be Bring Me The Horizon, it’s going to be like a wedding band!’ We were all willing to say yes to that, but then Oli decided he’d quite like to be involved.”

Sheeran clarified that he had meant the band, in full. When it was agreed, Sheeran sent over the song parts for Bad Habits, inviting the band to interpret it in their own way.

“We didn’t feel we needed to be too ground-breaking,” Fish concedes. “It came out really cool, and he was a real pleasure to work with, a super nice guy… we felt so honoured that he would give us an opportunity that was huge for us. It put us in front of a big audience of people in the UK who might not have known our type of music. The whole thing was fun.”

There’s plenty of fun promised for their Australian live shows, too. Fish promises the band will play all the fan favourites, along with a good chunk of the latest EP. And when he’s not on stage, Fish will be side-stage for his fellow headliners.

“For me, Deftones are one of my favourite bands of all time. Growing up, they were super influential. We played one show with them in America a few years ago and it was totally incredible to get to watch them and meet them, especially for me as a fanboy… Deftones are the only band I get really nervous around. I mean, it’s f**king Chino Moreno, I can’t get over that.”

Bring Me The Horizon will perform at Good Things Festival this December, for tickets and more info, click here.