Post Human: Survival Horror – based on a true story
Bring Me The Horizon simply cannot make a bad album. Aesthetically and conceptually, BMTH is one of the most uncompromising, creative and genre transient acts in the scene today and Post Human: Survival Horror only proves this point further. Fight me on it.
Post Human: Survival Horror is the most effective and introspective reflection of 2020 on the market, featuring commentary on the COVID-19 pandemic, BLM movement, climate change and the nuances of human sociology through an unprecedented era. The record’s central ideology wrestles with themes of authority vs. oppressed, government vs. governed, power distribution and active vs. passive citizenship.
This record brings the band’s sound full circle, combining inspiration from their earlier deathcore albums (Count Your Blessings, Suicide Season etc.) with modern and melodic elements from their later work (Music to […], Amo, That’s The Spirit). Considered, by many, to be a cornerstone in the recent nu-metal revival known as ‘nu-core,” Post Human: Survival Horror fits the bill with its riffage, syncopation and hip hop influences. Yet, the record does not sound like a product of the past, on the contrary, it defies all predictability. Co-producers Oli Sykes and John Fish forged a deft and polished blade that slices into the roots of their musicality; this album shatters tired tropes with fresh ideas and hot takes. Brimming with iconic features, most of which are female voices, and marked by a short and sweet tracklist PHSH stands out against Bring Me’s discography.
TRACK BY TRACK:
“Dear Diary” is a wall-of-death-worthy wink at the droves of BMTH fans who abandoned ship within the last few releases. It features the album’s only mini-solo from lead guitarist, Lee Malia. The song is a zombie apocalypse fantasy spun with simple yet clever narrative lyrics and decorated with Oli’s signature ad libs.
“Parasite Eve” acts as a critique of the global reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic (despite being written prior.) In the “Parasite Eve” music video the band wears respirators and masks. It permeates a sense of mass hysteria with sirens and automated announcements that are reminiscent of post-apocalyptic post-hardcore albums. Post Human: Survival Horror starts on the right foot with one of BMTH’s strongest suits: dynamic play. Epic symphony builds through the verse only to be cut off by a whisper before the track drops into a chorus of raging strings adorned with techy samples and futuristic effects. Lyrics like “This isn’t a warning this is a war,” and “ When we forget the infection, will we remember the lesson?” expose the politicization of a universal threat. A dance with mortality, this cardiac monitor of a song is stricken with infectious dread.
There’s never been a more Themes of declining mental health and disintegrating mass consciousness come to an apex on the perfect arena anthem for 2020, “Teardrops.” The digital age is characterized by upspikes of depression and suicide that have increased with forced isolation. The result of being “traumatized for breakfast,” by a 24hr news cycle is a tendency to rely on freeze instincts that shut off the senses to preserve the mind from the tragedy of our reality. After all, how many people can relate to the lines “How did we get so stressed out, paranoid, going dark, nothing makes me sadder than my head” and “I’m running out of teardrops.” Matt Kean and Nicholls play a controlled rhythm section that mimics the waves of a mental breakdown. Keyboardist/percussionist, John Fish’s glitchy hook encases listeners in their minds, as if a two way mirror through which they must observe the organized chaos of ambient guitars, growling bass and crashing cymbals. The “Teardrops” Music video is visibly inspired by nu-metal artists Linkin Park and Evanescence and the synth sounds fresh off “Somewhere I Belong” and “Papercuts” by the former.
“Obey” ft. YUNGBLUD decries government control which challenges individuals’ consciousness and calls for opposition to oppression. It parallels the Sempiternal hit “Antivist” within the context of police brutality and utilizes police sirens to drive the point home. BMTH and YUNGBLUD’s lyrics call into question the difference between what is legal and what is right, their perfectly tuned and punchy voices flanked by eerie leads, pounding bass and defiant percussion. “We’re cooperating with the way things are when we should be demanding better,” Sykes said to NME; directly referencing the POTUS’ response to the murder of George Floyd as well the ensuing protests. The song’s flashy melody is a testament to the smooth propaganda of politics. The vocalists hellish screams pierce that veil, unleashing the jagged fury of a people betrayed.
“Itch for the Cure (When Will We Be Free?)” is both a unique intermission and a hat-tip towards Linkin Park’s “Cure For The Itch.” It launches with unnerving audio effects accompanied by sped up and altered spoken word when Sykes vocals are abruptly transformed into Nintendo-esque midi tracks that form the basis of a Japanese influenced, edm/house chorus. This song pleads for answers- when will we be free from isolation? When will there be a cure? When will we feel safe from the virus and from our own society?
“Kingslayer” ft. Babymetal holds the answers. The title is inspired by the mode from COD:Warzone. It paints the archetype of a hero capable of overthrowing the powers that be (read: upper-ruling class) and releasing the people from the bonds of their servitude. A popular alternative interpretation suggests that because Corona translates directly to “crown” in English, the Kingslayer’s regicide is symbolic for the end to the pandemic. “Kingslayer” is a Suicide Season speed chase that ramps up the video-game factor with an ornate melody and pixelated harmony supported by a thumping backbone of uptempo drum mastery and an enrapturing bassline.
Somewhere between a Babymetal and a BMTH song, track number six is tailored to suit both vocalists, showcasing some of Sykes most brutal uncleans and Su-Metal’s sparkling upper register. Props to Fish on transforming Sykes scream into what sounds like an 8-bit tornado, illustrating the latter verses that twist the concept of a physical virus into a virtual one. In his NME track by track, Sykes specifically commends Antifa while explaining his philosophy that one must stand for what they believe is right.
“1X1” ft. Nova Twins rests upon persistent guitar riffs and gorgeous keys that remind me of the constant patter of rain. This drum-centric guilt trip meditates on self-destruction and self-hate via the relatable experience of “reliving my memories” and slips into suicidal ideation. It ponders, “I don’t know what hurts the most, holding on or letting go.” This line contrasts choosing to be better now or living in one’s past mistakes, as do: “I’m scared that I’m never going to be repaired,” “It’s bad for my health, how much I hate myself.” On several occasions the self is addressed as two separate identities “evil twin under the staircase.” The Nova Twins feature is fitting and punchy, packed with equal parts power and precision.
“Ludens” is a distorted dance hall hit produced for its appearance in Kojima Productions Death Stranding and was inspired by The Matrix. It echoes the main theme that the general population must be the heroes who work to save our world, implying the necessity of social, political and environmental change. “Ludens” is driven by poppy drums, twinkling synth, uncanny vocal harmonies and saw-like samples.
“One Day The Only Butterflies Left Will Be In Your Stomach As You March Towards Your Death” ft. Amy Lee tells the tragic love story of the abusive relationship between mankind and mother nature. This is easily the most emotional and moving number on the album. Angelic vocals from Lee and Sykes blend both BMTH and Evanescence’s aesthetics into a sobering ballad of orchestra and metal. Lee’s operatic backing vocals segue into gentle guitar notes and MASSIVE drums drowned in reverb. “Butterflies” is both Earth and mankind’s requiem, it is a funeral march crossed with the sounds of dying breath and crumbling land. Heart wrenching lyrics that describe a world past the point of saving warn listeners about the environment’s fast approaching tipping point, “You know you can’t breathe on your own.” Goose bumps are inescapable from the opening hums to the screamed bridge that builds tension until the album’s final jewelry-box twinkle of a note.