BMTH releases its sixth LP, amo, on Friday, Jan. 25: an experimental, electronic-influenced record and a beaming example of just how chameleonic singer Oliver Sykes and crew have becom -- as well as how a “heavy” band can, in fact, advance beyond mosh pits and blast beats without sacrificing its core musicianship.
As fans gear up for the amo album cycle and we celebrate BMTH’s first-ever Grammy nomination (the new single, “MANTRA,” is up for best rock song) here are our choices for the band’s 10 best tunes.
10. “Nihilist Blues” (feat. Grimes) (amo, 2019)
Let’s kick this list off with a shiny, new jam that best nails amo’s hard-rock-meets-electronic aesthetic. “Nihilist Blues” is a menacing, electro-pop banger that’s surely the most effective five minutes among this block of daring new tunes -- many of which bump like DJ remixes to traditional BMTH cuts. Sykes’ polished vocal is merely a plot device here as a galloping, club-ready instrumental leads to an even greater thump plus a wispy and welcome guest vocal from synth-pop singer Grimes. Plucked out of context, “Nihilist Blues” bears little resemblance to the band’s past work -- it might even pass for a Cheat Codes song -- though there’s just enough tonal menace to keep the old fans engaged.
9. “Diamonds Aren’t Forever” (Suicide Season, 2008)
WARNING: If you’ve only just hopped on the BMTH bandwagon for the last two albums, songs like “Diamonds Aren’t Forever” -- or just about anything from the band’s deathcore-tinged Suicide Season -- may result in an unexpected punch to the teeth. There’s great disparity between how the guys write now versus a decade ago. That’s not to say, however, that “Diamonds” isn’t a glorious chainsaw of a song, with explosive breakdowns and a monster gang chorus that sparked a load of “We will never sleep/ 'Cause sleep is for the weak” t-shirt sales. “Diamonds” also helped establish the band as heavy hook-masters who could (and did) galvanize a whole lot of new fans to thrash and flail to this ripper at Warped Tour 2008.
8. “Can You Feel My Heart” (Sempiternal, 2013)
The sonic wizardry of 2013's Sempiternal was due in part to the addition of keyboardist Jordan Fish, whose dynamic programming efforts and electronic influence shifted the group away from pure metalcore and toward a more amorphous and forward-facing sound. All of that is felt immediately with the sizzling, hypnotic album opener, “Can You Feel My Heart.” Sykes wrestles with drug addiction and depression here -- the lament “I can’t drown my demons/ They know how to swim” became another trademark T-shirt print -- but Fish’s tone-setting synth melody is the true takeaway and laid the groundwork for the band’s new identity.
7. “Chelsea Smile” (Suicide Season, 2008)
“Chelsea Smile” remains a quintessential BMTH song for many O.G. fans, as this was the big scene hit when success really began to find the guys from Sheffield. It’s the lead single off an album that proved the band understood melody and how to structure a song that wasn’t just a bunch of guttural growls and blast beats. Sure, “Chelsea” is still plenty heavy, but fans could latch onto the group’s first famous chorus -- “I’ve got a secret/ It’s at the tip of my tongue/ It’s on the back of my lungs” -- and there’s a lot to like in the back-half instrumental section, where we hear the beginnings of what would become an obsession with digital sounds.
6. “Empire (Let Them Sing)” (Sempiternal, 2013)
“Empire,” is a big, acerbic album track with a seething hook and smart balance between the band BMTH had always been to this point, and the world-beating act they were about to become. It must’ve been maddening to be in the studio when Sempiternal was being recorded; the band was attempting to infuse a pile of hammering riffs with all the atmospheric programming it so desired -- without forcing the two into a battle for fans’ attention. That’s no small feat, and this album might have been BMTH’s sweetest spot in that regard. “Empire” rips you a new one every time you listen to it, while the studio gloss keeps you coming back for more.
5. “Doomed” (That’s The Spirit, 2015)
Before you read any further, go watch the version of “Doomed” recorded for the group’s Live at the Royal Albert Hall concert film, complete with a symphony orchestra and choir of backup singers; it is freaking amazing. Anyway, the studio version of this epic album opener is deeply arresting, too, with a wonderfully mysterious, electronic preamble that gives way to one of Sykes’ most dynamic vocal performances so far. The huge, serrated hook (“So go rain on my parade”) is beautifully juxtaposed with a falsetto that coos “I think we’re doomed,” and draws the gate for an album that took the synth sounds a bit further, fused a bit of pop and earned the band its most glowing reviews to date.
4. “Fuck” (There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It A Secret, 2010)
Somewhere up in the cosmos it was decided -- whenever you’re jamming out to this song, someone will ask you what you’re listening to and then you’ll have to explain: “Yes, it’s a song called ‘Fuck.’ No, I’m not kidding.” Whatever, “Fuck” is awesome; it’s frantically fun. with some of the group’s most effective breakdowns. Plus, there's a major assist from You Me At Six’s frontman John Franceschi, who turns in an impassioned clean vocal break to finish off an addictive track that BMTH should really consider adding back into their live sets -- they haven’t played it regularly since 2013.
3. “Throne” (That’s the Spirit, 2015)
Someone needs to let BMTH open for Metallica, if only so that the hard-rock colossus that is “Throne” can be played in a stadium, where it belongs. Stats-wise, “Throne” is the biggest hit of BMTH’s career so far (120 million plays on Spotify alone) and the tune’s mammoth chorus is the band’s most accessible — even little kids can sing it! Its skittering synthy intro is immediately recognizable, and it’s hard not to love the pop-imbued verse that turns venomous as it approaches the chorus. Kudos to Fish here for merging the “oh-ohs” of the Sykes vocal with the song's digital melody, in such a way that the two meld into a singular humanity-adjacent sound.
2. “Go To Hell, For Heaven’s Sake” (Sempiternal, 2013)
This banner single off Sempiternal is ultimately the album’s most replayable thrasher. It’s aggressive and sinfully fun, with a hook designed to scream in the face of your greatest enemy. The sonic blend is “Linkin Park meets symphonic metal” -- but with a few tweaks in tone, this could’ve been a Motley Crue song, too. It’s a bulletproof composition that’s yet another example on Sempiternal of Fish’s terrific atmospheric amendments to a band that learned how to write some seriously kick-ass hard-rock songs.
1. “It Never Ends” (There Is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret, 2010)
“It Never Ends” was the seismic shift, the Big Bang, the great migration for BMTH away from metalcore rudimentaries and into an era of digital and orchestral experimentation. It’s led the band to titanic successes with every release since There Is A Hell ... -- and moreover it’s an industrial shredder of a lead single. “It Never Ends” is masterful in its progression from lush, encompassing synth and choral vocals to a breakneck, punk-inspired chorus that alludes to Sykes’ struggle with drug addiction. It’s a deeply troubled song, yet it remains one of the band’s most satisfying chant-alongs, and we’ll say it once, we’ll say it twice, we’ll say it a thousand effing times: “It Never Ends” is the greatest Bring Me The Horizon song.