Modern dads have to be serious multitaskers, and Bring Me the Horizon keyboardist Jordan Fish is no exception. As he talks to Billboard about Amo, the band’s sixth studio album and fourth to crack the Billboard 200 top 20, one hand is on his phone while the other tries to feed his fussy son.
“He’s just spitting it out everywhere,” Fish says. “He doesn’t like hoisin sauce, apparently. He’s only 2. I should have known.”
He laughs as he says it, as he’d spent the last half-hour talking about the importance of risk-taking and experimentation. It’s a running theme in his life, especially since BMTH started work on Amo. Released in late January, it immediately stands out from its predecessors as the band’s catchiest, most melodic and unapologetically accessible LP to date.
“[Most] bands are too scared to try different stuff,” Fish says. “That’s the big problem with rock music and where it’s kind of falling behind … We’re at a point in our career where we felt we had to make the jump and really separate ourselves from the kind of music that we often get lumped in with that we don’t really like, or at least don’t feel that connected to.”
BMTH has come a long way from its original deathcore sound. Play their 2006 debut Count Your Blessings back to back with Amo and it doesn’t even sound like the same band. Ever since Fish joined the group as a session musician on 2013’s Sempiternal, the group has increasingly incorporated synthetic elements and overall electronic atmospheres.
Indeed, the band’s chameleonic character has helped BMTH to become one of metal’s most successful acts for ages, but where earlier work flirted with genre crossover, Amo engages in unabashed appreciation.
“We’re a rock band,” Fish says, “but where we can, we try to take the opportunity to mess around in … that little sweet spot where it could be a metal band trying to do electronic music, or it could be a guy who sometimes has drums on his songs. That’s interesting to me. That’s pushing things forward – even if it doesn’t work sometimes. It’s about trying to do rock music in a way that opens it, makes it feel like something that could actually work going forward rather than just being a retro rehash.”
The intersection of electronic and metal is nothing new. The ‘90s were flush with popular examples, from industrial rock icon Nine Inch Nails to “death pop” band Orgy. More modern times have honored From First To Last singer Sonny Moore’s evolution into mega-producer Skrillex. Noted metal-head Kayzo has done much in the past year to marry his rock roots with his bass-heavy productions, collaborating with popular metal outfits Underoath and Our Last Night.
Amo adds to this lineage with a decidedly rock filter, but it blurs the lines so candidly, it seems to mark a new chapter in the group’s story. Fish attributes their fresh perspective to an unexpected hiatus.
The band’s cyclical formula of writing, tour, writing, tour halted in 2017 as Sykes underwent a publicized divorce, and Fish attended to his newborn son’s serious illness. It was the first such break since Fish joined the group seven years ago, and when the dust of life settled and creative sessions began, it gave the feeling of a true “clean slate.” While it was awkward at first to shake the rust off their artistic sensibilities, it also gave them the space to break old habit.
“In the past, I think we’d start songs a certain way, and at some point in the process, turn them into one of our songs,” Fish says. “We’d take out certain parts or neutralize them into something that sounds like a Bring Me To The Horizon song. I think this time, we felt a bit more like if we liked it, then that was really all that matters.”
Right out the gate, Amo announces its departure with the ghostly notes of Fish’s keys on “i apologize if you feel something.” Sykes is mournful and ethereal over building drums that belie Fish and Sykes shared love of IDM acts like Radiohead, Moderat and Four Tet.
“nihilist blues,” featuring sci-fi alt-pop artist grimes, as an example. The third track on the album opens with haunting rave synths over a pulsing beat. It makes no attempt to hide its Berlin-esque, goth-house influence as it slinks toward a smoky-club climax. It’s followed by the dark-pop sing-along “in the dark,” whose twisted-but-catchy melodies are topped only by “medicine,” whose hook emits downright radio-levels of infectiousness.
The band’s past meets its present on “wonderful life,” featuring Cradle of Filth vocalist Dani Filth. Its crunchy guitars and screaming hook acted as a case study in juxtaposition. It’s purposefully hectic, what Fish calls “a bit of a mess.”
“The verse and the chorus don’t particularly jive together in exactly how I would naturally go for, but when we were writing it, we were aware of it,” he says. “It fits with the whole lyrical vibe of the song … We could have rewritten it because it’s weird, but it’s cool that it’s weird.”
It’s these small decisions to push themselves over and over again that give Amo its evolutionary character. Fish and his bandmates know Amo will alienate some fans and playfully challenge others, but it also hopes this pioneering spirit will reach and inspire legions more. After 13 years of solid work, it feels good finding room to grow.
“I think it’s our best work. I’m really proud of it,” he says. “People who don’t think they like rock music or don’t think they like electronic music, it would be something for all of them as a way to get into it. It feels quite different to anything that is out there at the moment. I think it’s a very different type of record, and I think in this day and age, that’s something to be proud of.”