“If this was the last song you ever heard, what would you do,” Oli Sykes asks before ‘Throne’, the glitching, apocalyptic anthem that’s played towards the end of Bring Me The Horizons’ headline set at London’s O2 Arena.
Their music has always leant more towards destruction than salvation, from 2008s breakout second album ‘Suicide Season’ to the forward-thinking pop-metal of 2019’s ‘Amo’. Last year’s mini-album ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’ was written, recorded and released during a global pandemic. Unsurprisingly, it is obsessed with the end of the world.
Tonight though, Bring Me The Horizon do everything to make sure that, if this was their last time on stage, they’d be going out at the peak of their power.
From the opening, streamer-strewn explosion of ‘Teardrops’ through the snarling ‘The House of Wolves’ to a stripped-down, piano rendition of ‘Follow You’, the band are on ferocious form. Since Bring Me The Horizon first played this venue back in 2016, Sykes has been criticised for his live vocals, but tonight every guttural scream and polished pop chorus is flawless.
Past shows have also seen him a ringleader of chaos – demanding mosh pits and crowd surfers for every song – but his instructions take a back seat tonight. The crowd is still a swirling mass of physical energy that doesn’t stop moving for the duration of the 90-minute set, but Sykes is happy to let them do things their own way. For the most part, anyway.
It gives the whole set a sense of playful confidence. Sure, ‘Medicine’ is about cutting out toxic people from your life and ‘Drown’ explores depression but tonight is about having as much fun as possible. As they sing on ‘Parasite Eve’, “we cannot save you. Enjoy the ride”.
The stage setup is just as ambitious. Some aspects take influence from the likes of Twenty One Pilots, Nine Inch Nails and The 1975, while others are completely revolutionary. Bring Me The Horizon are the first band to do an arena-sized optical illusion that literally changes how you’re viewing the performance, while ‘Dear Diary’ is part arcade shooter, part Fright Night immersive experience. There aren’t many bands who can battle animated zombies, and it not seem stupid.
The soundtrack is just as forward-thinking. The updated 00’s alt-rock of ‘Die4U’ has been described by the band as Future Emo, and lyrically it’s perhaps the most romantic they’ve ever been. ‘Kingslayer’ sees BMTH continuing The Prodigy’s legacy of mashing rave and rock together, while the snarling ‘Obey’ is a politically charged rager, perfect for 2021. When Yungblud walks out to perform it alongside BMTH, the crowd loses the last of their minds.
If you wanted proof of BMTH’s legacy of evolution, though, you only had to turn up early.
Doors have barely opened when Nova Twins take to the stage, but they quickly turn the O2 into their own personal playpark. Their juddering, riff-driven music walks the fine line between metal and pop without compromising on either, and it sounds incredible in rooms of this size. When they bound onto the stage later in the night to perform ‘1×1’ with BMTH, they bring an energy that isn’t felt at any other point in the night.
Likewise, fellow Myspace-survivors You Me At Six might be seven albums deep into their career and have never dipped below Reading Festival Main Stage act, but experimental new album ‘Suckapunch’ is by far their best. A hectic marriage of brit rock, EDM and electro-pop, it sees the band rejuvenated. It wouldn’t have been possible without Bring Me The Horizon.
It’s hard to call BMTH the best metal band in Britain when so much of what they do pushes things forward across all genres. Tonight is an awe-inspiring showcase of the future of music. The end? Bring Me The Horizon are just getting started.