BMTH, one of the grandfather's of everything you hate about deathcore, started to shift away from that sound with their last album "There Is A Really Long Fucking Album Title And Here It Is" which wasn't the best album, but it was a step in the right direction for them. Sempiternal had not one but two pretty nice stand-out singles leading up to its release, so how did it stand up against their last album and their back catalogue? Let's go on a journey.
1. Can You Feel My Heart
Right away, this track has a stuttering and seemingly off-tempo electronic beat that really doesn't make any sense, but once the band kicks in it sounds just right. This track right here really sets the tone for the whole album - a lot more laid back, a lot more experimental in their sound (well, experimental for BMTH for sure), and showcases how much of an influence that post-hardcore and electronica have in their new sound. It's actually a pretty awesome song to start things out. Oli doesn't attempt his terrible guttural vocals here and sticks to his screamo-esque vocals that sounds alright on album. A good place to kick off, but if this doesn't hook you then the rest of the album probably won't do anything for you. 8/10
2. The House Of Wolves
This album actually starts off really heavy and fast but showcases my least favorite part of the album - the atrocious lyricism. This is the first of three songs on the album that are anti-religion in general and they all sound like they're written by an edgy Hot Topic 13-year old. Luckily, the fast part goes into its catchy chorus using the melodic vocals again. And although I just said I hate the lyrics, the breakdown of "When you die the only kingdom you'll see/Is two-foot wide and six-feet deep" puts the same shit-eating grin on my face the first time I heard "BEFORE YOU SEE THE LIGHT/YOU MUST DIIIIEEE." It's just cheeseball at its best. The breakdown here, and on most of the record, is executed pretty well. No disgusting dissonant tones and they aren't slow and boring. Another solid song, although not the best. 7.5/10
3. Empire (Let Them Sing)
This track definitely sounds the most like something off Suicide Season. Oli's harsh vocals and the gang-shouted backups definitely have something to do with that. Oli actually sounds a bit like Chester Bennington on this album. That's not really a huge dig, but it's just kinda funny. Really, this song is pretty much filler. It's also one of the first of a recurring theme of going from LOUD to quiet back to LOUD. That, or its inverse, is an apparent gimmicky theme throughout the album. Really though, this song just sounds generic. Oli's fucking accent starts to become super apparent from here on out and it's just goofy as hell. 5/10
One of the singles released before the album was released, I think this song is awesome. It combines the synth-laden/expansive sounding post-hardcore sound that they've been going for and pulls it off great. There is a breakdown here where it gets a bit heavy, but it's not too much here to detract from the rest of the song. It's catchy as hell. 8.5/10
5. Go To Hell For Heaven's Sake
Now with a song like that, this has gotta be one of the worst on the album, right? I thought that on my first listen, but this actually is one of the more surprising songs on the album. It's one of the songs on the heavier side, but it's done very gracefully and with lots of melody. Lots of interesting guitar work here, as well - not really something I'd say about anything else BMTH has done in the past. There's the perfect point for an old-school, dumb-as-shit deathcore breakdown here, but it's replaced by a guitar solo. A sign of the changing times. 7.5/10
6. Shadow Moses
The single that got me interested in hearing this album. Just like It Never Ends on their last album, this is such a fucking awesome song. Although maybe not as jaw-dropping as when I first heard It Never Ends, I find it stuck in my head a ton. Perfectly combining all the heavy elements that the band has ever had without any of the shitty deathcore elements that we all hate - there's a breakdown here but it's perfectly executed and leads back into the chorus better than most bands could do in this position. And of course, another shit-eating grin on my face when the music cuts out and Oli screams "THIS IS SEMPITERNAL!
" that is just great. Again, there's a textbook example near the end here that would normally lead into a slack-jawed breakdown, but the band just goes back to their melodic chorus and it works so much better. The only thing I fucking hate is the name of the song because this really has nothing to do with Metal Gear Solid god damnit. 9.5/10
7. And The Snakes Start To Sing
Have you ever wondered what it'd be like for Olli Sykes to sing? Like...actually sing? Here ya go. With his fucking hilarious British accent completely decimating any chance I had to take him seriously. The song is another softer one, and it just seems to noodle around a bit without ever really taking off. Another filler song, really. Just boring. 5/10
8. Seen It All Before
This song sounds almost exactly like the one before it. Still a slower one, still featuring Olli singing. If you were to listen to the first parts of each song, you probably wouldn't be able to tell them apart. I have no idea why they didn't take one of the 2 heavier songs coming up and put it in between these two to break up the monotony a little bit. But whatever. This song just tries a little hard to seem too emotional. Like, when writing it, they said "What can we play to make sure people know we're SERIOUS about this song?" I dunno, it just rubs me the wrong way. Not as bad as the previous song, but still pretty bad. 5.5/10
HERE WE FUCKING GO. "MIDDLE FINGERS UP/IF YOU DON'T GIVE A FUCK." This is the closest to old-style BMTH we're ever going to get. I mean it's just dumb, bouncy metalcore with some of the most lelzy edgy lyrics on the album. I mean, for fucks sake, it says "You can say I'm just a fool, that stands for nothing. Well, to that, I say you're a cunt!" going into the breakdown and it repeats "cunt!" in the background over and over. This is the "Diamonds Aren't Forever" of this album. Totally stupid, but at least they try and make it fun. 6/10
10. Crooked Young
Caution: you might cut yourself on the edginess of the lyrics here. "FUCK YOUR FAITH!" Watch it, Corey Taylor. But, as with the rest of the record, right when you start to get tired of the shitty elements of their old style of music that they brought along to this record, they quickly move on to something better. The beginning of this track is the closest the album comes to full-on deathcore, but luckily it never strays into that territory. About the same quality as Antivist. 6/10
11. Hospital For Souls
Last track, and I'm kinda disappointed on how much of a snoozer it is. Generic riff and melody trying to be upheld by soaring synths, but it has the opposite effect. The band tries to get heavy again, with some nice lead guitar playing here and there, but it's just lacking the "oomph" that other tracks had. Totally disappointing to end the album with this. 5/10
I gathered a couple of things after hearing this whole album for the first time. I'd go ahead and say Bring Me The Horizon, along with Suicide Silence and Job For A Cowboy, are the godfathers of the sound people call "deathcore," and it's blowing my mind that on Sempiternal, there is no deathcore at all. For all the breakdowns, they're done in the old-school post-hardcore/REAL metalcore style. There are no guttual vocals or pig squeals here at all. Deathcore is truly dead and gone.
I wish I could take all the good songs from their previous album and put them on here in place of the more mediocre songs. It'd be fucking amazing.
I'll go ahead and say this is far and away the best thing Bring Me The Horizon has ever done. But saying that, I wish some of their slower/softer songs here had a little bit more...well...balls. At times it seems like they're being "experimental" just for the sake of being experimental. It's not a huge problem for the album, just on some of the songs.
"Sempiternal" is a more thorough and complete record than their previous album, though it's not perfect. That being said, this was the first BMTH album I ever bought. I don't think I want to see them live, nor do I like their first two albums. But this was a step in the right direction for the band.