In November 2019, frontman of Bring Me The Horizon, Oli Sykes, boldly claimed that the band were “not going to do an album again, maybe ever”. Almost a year later, on the 30th October 2020, they released the second product of this new musical approach the Post Human: Survival Horror EP. Their first experimental EP received mixed reviews, with some praising its experimentation and others criticizing its length. Nevertheless, it proved the seriousness of the group’s move away from being constrained by their heavy metal audience’s desires, something they’d been steadily working on since the release of That’s The Spirit in 2015.
The Post Human: Survival Horror EP, though, offers some redeeming features for Bring Me The Horizon’s earliest fans, with there being a considerable revival of the guttural scream. Adding to this ‘revived’ sound is the resonance of the subject, with Sykes’ lyrics harking to the insanity of these ‘apocalyptic’ times, and the appealing political rhetoric of corrupt and dangerous leadership. Indeed, the EP sees Sykes condemning Donald Trump’s attempted classification of Antifa and Extinction Rebellion as ‘terrorist’ organisations.
‘Dear Diary’ punchily sets the pandemic-centric stage for the EP, invoking the diary-keeping obsession of the first lockdown. The lyrics manage to capture much of the pandemic feeling of repetition and confusion, “I’m going braindead, isolated”, and introduces the idea of the ‘end of the world’, something which remains a fundamental theme throughout. The end of the song blends beautifully into the beginning tribal sounds of ‘Parasite Eve’, one of the stand-out tracks on the EP. This song is another apocalyptic take on the pandemic, with references to sneezing, vaccination and quarantining, but in true Bring Me The Horizon style, the implication of mind-control and war exaggerate the feelings surrounding the virus. However, the eerie alien-esque pre-chorus, contrasted with the heavy guitar sounds of the chorus, combine to reinforce the main message of the track: “When we forget the infection/ Will we remember the lesson?”
As the post-apocalyptic alien voice fades out from ‘Parasite Eve’, the song ‘Teardrops’ hits with force and deals with the impact of lockdown on mental health, offering a hard-rock take on pop. ‘Obey’, very recently voted Annie Mac’s hottest record of the year, stands out in particular due to its collaboration with the up-and-coming singer-songwriter Yungblud, marking new territory for British rock and further proving the band’s desire to explore beyond the horizon of traditional rock-metal artistry.
The short electronic transitionary song: ‘Itch for the Cure (When Will We Be Free?)’, is one of my favourites on the EP because, like their previous expertimentalisms, it is unlike their previous work. It also fades perfectly into ‘Kingslayer’, featuring another intriguing collaboration with the ‘kawaii-metal’ band Babymetal. As well as being a reference to a medal in the game Call of Duty, Sykes also reveals that the term ‘kingslayer’ is an ode to someone who is “willing to do what’s right even if it’s illegal”, which Sykes reveals is in reference to those denying the effects of climate change and trying to silence those actively working against this.
‘1×1’, featuring the Nova Twins, presents further comment on the guilt of humanity at the harm done to other species, genders and ethnicities, something which the pandemic has further served to highlight. The second stand out track in the EP, ‘Ludens’, despite being released in November 2019, is a perfect anthem to serenade the pandemic era. Harking to the fact that “a world covered in cables was never wired to last” and highlighting the frustration of isolation: “How do I form a connection when we can’t even shake hands?”, as well as the reiteration that we “need a new leader”, the song ‘Ludens’ expertly portrays the growing frustrations with politicians and lockdown isolation.
As the final song brings the 32 minute long EP to a momentous close, the feeling is certainly one akin to finishing a full-length album. Yet, the theme linking this stream of songs together somehow makes the experience more succinct and topical than their 2019 album Amo. With many fans entertained by the return to their earlier sound, even noting the similarities to Linkin Park both in musicality and artistry, parallels being found in the music video for ‘Teardrops’, the ability to focus on a smaller set of thematically linked songs has perhaps opened up avenues for both musical experimentation and reconciliation. Whether the band seeks to push to newer musical horizons, or to return to their musical roots, their recent release has given rock-metal fans further hope for the future of the genre.
Image credit: Markus Hillgärtner via Wikimedia Commons