bring me the horizon – POST HUMAN: NeX GEn

The metalcore legends continue to subvert and exceed expectations…

As surprise releases go, ‘POST HUMAN: NeX GEn’ carries an unusually heavy weight of expectation. This is largely because much about the release isn’t a surprise at all: the album was originally due to arrive last September before that old devil, “unforeseen circumstances”, led to an indefinite postponement. The band has put out no fewer than six singles from ‘NeX GEn’, starting as early as 2021, and are well into a world tour promoting the album. And that’s not to mention the obvious fact that it’s billed as the second in a four-part series, one which started with 2020’s rather brilliant ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’.

Of course, what much of this means is that much of BMTH’s fanbase will already be familiar with large chunks of ‘NeX GEn’, right down to the AI-inspired framing concept which has played such a prominent role in their live shows. Thankfully, that concept isn’t the focus here: after a synthetic voice introduces the record with “Let’s begin,” Bring Me the Horizon launches straight into one of the most consistent set of songs of their two-decade career, one which draws on every influence imaginable and makes them the band’s own.

Opener ‘YOUtopia’ starts off with a riff that sounds like it’s been pulled from ‘Siamese Dream’, then becomes a pop-punk song, before melting away into an acoustic ballad and roaring back to full stadium rock—all within the first minute. ‘n/A’ interpolates crowd contributions, recorded during their live shows earlier this year, into a song that sounds rather bizarrely like Sum 41’s ‘Fat Lip’. ‘Top 10 staTues tHat CriEd bloOd’ is even more bonkers, beginning with a jangly, hyperpoppy bit of synth noodling before launching into a pop-punk track that could have been written in 2002—although what 2002 couldn’t have given us is the track’s second half, where the song suddenly distorts, swallowed up in a choppy maelstrom of chiptune bleeps and breakbeats.

This experimentation doesn’t always work, but it’s successful often enough to make ‘NeX GEn’ an album worthy of deep and repeated listens. And it’s complemented by some of the best songwriting bandleader Oli Sykes has ever done, ranging from the raw, vitriolic ‘Kool-Aid’ to the emotive (but extremely catchy) ‘DArkSide’, and peaking with the utterly brilliant ‘LosT’. Unfortunately, that advice to listen deeply shouldn’t always be extended to the lyrics, which threaten to scupper some of the album’s best tracks—‘DiE4u’ and ‘Dig It’ being two of the worst offenders here—and there are times when the producers’ imaginations seem to be tearing at the seams a little, pulling as they are in so many different directions at once. But these are minor critiques in an album which does so much so successfully, and whose ambitions soar so high above so many of its influences, that it more than makes up for the four-year wait. Here’s hoping the next instalment in the Post Human series comes a bit sooner.

8/10

Words: Tom Kingsley

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