Live Report: Bring Me The Horizon & Friends – Malta Weekender

A sea of black descends on the Mediterranean island...

Slowly but surely, a sea of black surges into Malta International Airport. The parade of stompy boots doesn’t quite match up with the glittering sunshine and swaying palm trees, but that’s not an issue – not when everyone’s spirits are sky-high, ready for a weekend of hot weather and even hotter music. As the hoards make their way through customs, security squinting twice to conclude whether the bare-faced passport photo matches up with the intricately made-up emo that stands before them, the reality is sinking in – the Bring Me The Horizon & Friends’ Malta Weekender is finally here.

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Live Report: Bring Me The Horizon & Friends – Malta Weekender

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Organised by Pollen, the weekend promises pool parties, booze cruises and a whole flurry of exciting DJ sets – and it totally delivers. From the opening party’s mosh-whirlpool, festival-goers joyously splashing along to metal tracks, to the surprisingly competitive afternoon of Emo Bingo, every event is a rousing success. The activities on offer truly set the festival apart from Bring Me’s stint at All Points East – this is a full-on experience rather than just a series of sets.

The sets on offer, however, are a total delight. The small-but-mighty selection of acts serves as a perfect embodiment of what’s on offer in the world of heavy music right now – offering up buckets of giddy nostalgia alongside the fresh-faced future of rock. Despite the heat, fans throw themselves entirely into the flow of acts they’ve grown up with – be that rampantly crawling up to crowdsurf along to Beartooth, moshing along to Motionless In White or howling along to the timeless belter 'MY TEARS DON’T FALL' during Bullet For My Valentine. Despite being a last minute addition, While She Sleeps are also a force to be reckoned with, the Sheffield metalcore icons taking the stage with a sense of urgency and series of classic tracks that has bodies moving instantly.

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Live Report: Bring Me The Horizon & Friends – Malta Weekender

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Acts embodying the future of the scene also capture the ears of the Malta crowds. Static Dress’ performance is bold, each track sharp and distinctive, while Nova Twins’ venomous lyricisms and viscous breakdowns ooze class. Heavy metal collective Spiritbox’s set is also a total stand-out, Courtney LaPlante’s raw, vicious vocals absolutely showstopping.

The weekend’s celebration of old and new is solidified by Bring Me’s perfectly curated duo of sets. Night one is a glorious celebration of the here-and-now, hyper-focused on anthems from the group’s latest release ‘POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR’ – crowds furiously yelling along to the barrelling ‘Dear Diary,’ before bouncing along to the kawaii-metal-infused ‘Kingslayer’. All before the chaos of night two – a carnal evening of throwbacks, knocking out classic tracks, some having remained untouched for over a decade. The crowd is a breed of its own, hyper-injected with an energy entirely different than the evening before. Hearing a modern-day Bring Me knock out iconic tracks from ‘Count Your Blessings’, like ‘(I Used to Make Out With) Medusa’ and ‘Liquor & Love Lost’, is wild – and the modern-day Oli Sykes’ vocals sound lush in comparison to the original recordings (sorry not sorry).

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Live Report: Bring Me The Horizon & Friends – Malta Weekender

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The decision to drag out artists to feature on classic tracks is truly a crowning moment. The features breathe new life into classic tracks, while still respecting their original form. As Sykes’ cries out “I’VE GOT A SECRET-!” the wave of adrenaline that floods the crowd is amplified by the arrival of Spiritbox’s of Courtney LaPlante, magnificently putting her stamp on the iconic anthem. The crowd is also treated to a Static Dress feature, the Oli/Olli power duo absolutely nailing ‘Alligator Blood’, while Malevolence’s Alex Taylor is let loose to feature on ‘Pray for Plagues’. But that’s not the end of it – While She Sleeps’ Lawrence Taylor’s feature on ‘Sempiternal’s ‘Empire (Let Them Sing)’ is also a total treat, and Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo steps up to the plate to perform ‘Antivist’.

As the set draws to a close, the magnitude of all Bring Me The Horizon have achieved thus far is truly thrumming in the air. The Malta Weekender serves as a reminder of Bring Me’s impact on the scene thus far – redefining themselves and the scene at every turn, as well as shining a spotlight on fresh talent. Bring Me know how to put on a show, they know what they’ve got to offer, and they know what the fans want. It’s been a giddy, euphoric celebration of what heavy music is, and what it has the potential to be – and, as Sykes cheekily asks “same time next year, yeah?”, we can’t help but scream in agreement. Sunshine and metalcore are, surprisingly, the perfect combo – Thai Weekender 2023, anyone?

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Live Report: Bring Me The Horizon & Friends – Malta Weekender

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Words: Emily Swingle
Photo Credit: Ross Silcocks

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