With “There Is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret” being Bring Me the Horizon’s fourth studio outing, you’ve either come to love or hate this band by now.
With their roots extending deep into the hardcore genre, they have developed their sound into something more melodic and thought-out than their previous endeavors. For hardcore/metal enthusiasts, this should be a welcome sight in the sea of new bands emerging in the scene.
Back in their early days, frontman Oliver Sykes’ scream was more or less similar to many other vocalists of their genre, from his growls to his high-pitched shrieks.
Now, as with their last album “Suicide Season,” Sykes has turned his sound into the gritty yell that we have come to either love or hate. It definitely gives Sykes a level of emotion in his lyrics that he didn’t have before “Suicide Season,” as well as carves out a unique sound that a listener can immediately identify with Bring Me the Horizon.
One of the musical elements that really sets this album apart from its predecessors is the use of a choral group, among other things, in a few songs. For example, in the album opener “Crucify Me,” a choir chants the name of the album during the chorus. As out of place as it may seem, it works surprisingly well.
Another welcome addition to Sykes’ vocals is the snippets of Canadian pop star LIGHTS’ gentle voice, which beautifully contrasts and compliments Sykes. Her vocals are featured in the aforementioned “Crucify Me” and in the emotional ballad “Don’t Go.”
Bring Me the Horizon also makes use of other vocalists, such as Josh Franceschi, of You Me At Six, on the explicitly titled “Fuck,” and Josh Scogin, of The Chariot, on the closing track “The Fox and the Wolf.” They provide clean vocals that allow for Sykes’ vocals to take a backseat to the clean-sung parts that these guest artists provide.
Although the vocal talents on this album are varied and enjoyable, the lyrics are what really separate this album from the band’s past efforts. Granted, even though songs like “Alligator Blood” are fairly explicit in nature, the lyrics are clever and metaphorical while maintaining that Bring Me the Horizon edge that they are known for.
Another pervasive lyrical theme throughout this album, as the title alludes, is the issue of religion and the struggles we have with it. On their last album, we see this struggle through lines such as “I’d rather live than live forever” and “but if I don’t believe in him, why would he believe in me?”
On the album, we see this recurring through lyrics like “there is nothing above, there is nothing below” and “God forgive me for all my sins, God forgive me for everything.” This shows the conflict that the writer – whether it was Sykes or another band member – is going through, and seeing lyrical depth like this is always welcome in the sea of pointless lyrics on today’s radio airwaves.
On a musical level, the guitars and drums are still as technical as ever. Fans of “Suicide Season” will notice that the same musical styles are used on this album, so anyone who didn’t enjoy their last album may find it hard to enjoy this one as well.
With that being said, fans will still find the powerful breakdowns and intricately woven solos that they’ve come to love from this band. There are a few songs, like “Don’t Go,” “Memorial” and “Blessed With a Curse” that are slower and more emotional, which shows a maturity in the band’s songwriting that transcends the genre while preserving their musical identity.
Overall, this is a superb effort from the Bring Me the Horizon boys, as they show us the same talent and technicality that is characteristic of the genre. Sprinkled with clever, emotional lyrics, despite their explicit nature, and the vocal talents of various other artists, this is a must-buy for metal/hardcore music enthusiasts. Even if you don’t listen to this genre, “There Is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret” wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Unlike the title of the album implies, this is definitely something that shouldn’t be kept secret.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5