Bring Me The Horizon offer up bone-crunching carnage at London’s O2 Arena

“We are living proof that anyone can do this shit,” grins Oli Sykes.

Words: Ali Shutler.
Photos: Frances Beach.

Bring Me The Horizon have always been pushing back against something. From those early screamo days through the reinvention on ‘Sempiternal’ and the genre-toying that would follow on ‘Amo’, the rebellious, fidgety Sheffield band have never done what was expected of them.

In recent years, those gambles have paid off with their ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’ EP signposting a glorious fresh era for the band that led to celebrated, defiant headline sets at both Reading & Leeds and Download, while new single ‘Kool Aid’ crashed into the top half of the UK Singles Chart earlier this month despite sounding like nothing else on the radio with its blend of hardcore, tech metal and auto-tuned screams. 

Despite their many victories, though, Bring Me have inspired another wave of questions about their imminent future as the biggest heavy band in Britain following the abrupt departure of in-house producer and multi-instrumentalist Jordan Fish and the very delayed ‘Post Human: Nex Gen’. Typically, Bring Me would answer the doubters with snarling defiance and flexed musical muscles, but as they take to the stage at London’s O2 Arena for the second of two sold-out shows at the venue, it’s clear the band are here to play. 

That confidence extends to the supporting line-up, which features Bad Omens, the most buzzy metal band that isn’t Sleep Token, and the ferocious Static Dress, a band that feel like natural successors to Bring Me’s abrasive, arty crown. 

Doors have barely opened when Static Dress take to the very front section of the O2 (the rest of the stage curtained off due to Bring Me’s imposing, impressive set-up), but within seconds of the thundering ‘Disposable Care’, a trio of pits have opened up thanks in part to the encouragement of vocalist Olli Appleyard. “Time to make some new friends, push someone around,” he smirks later. 

The band perfectly straddle the line between the scrappy Leeds hardcore scene that they came up through and the cinematic ambition that’s come alongside every release. Abrasive hardcore tumbles into sleek arena pop and back again without the band ever softening their edges. Vulnerable, introspective lyrics inspired by 00s emo are delivered with heart and vitriol while the band giddy indulge in whipping the crowd up into a frenzy. There are countless moments of Static Dress’ blistering 25-minute set that sees the band prove they’re more than capable of commanding rooms this big, but they proudly do it their own way. The set ends with Olli splitting the room down the middle for the hammering ‘Clean’.

By contrast, Bad Omens start theirs by bringing the O2 together via the chugging metalcore of ‘Artificial Suicide’. Like Bring Me, Bad Omens spent the first chunk of their career as celebrated underground heroes, but 2022’s breakout album ‘The Death Of Peace Of Mind’ amplified everything. Tonight, with a series of video interludes breaking up the menacing set and no need to explain who they are, Bad Omens rage through their 45-minute set that acts as more of an audition for their own inevitable arena run. It’s impressive, but the band do little to bring those in the crowd who aren’t familiar with the soaring ‘Just Pretend’ or the electro swagger of ‘The Death Of Peace Of Mind’ into their world.

Later, both Olli and Bad Omen’s Noah Sebastian are invited to share the stage with Bring Me (performing a vicious ‘Diamonds Aren’t Forever’ and a snooty ‘Antivist’ respectively) while Cassyette (who was forced to cancel due to illness) also gets a shout out. “We’ll be back here one day supporting her,” grins Oli.

Rather than starting with a chaotic bang, Bring Me kick-off tonight’s set with a flurry of confetti and the skipping, shimmering ‘Darkside’ while ‘Empire (Let Them Sing)’ is more about bringing people together than encouraging them to tear each other apart. Huge pop rock bangers ‘Mantra’ and ‘Teardrops’ quickly follow, with Oli joining in with the dance routine performed by two backing dancers. 

Even EVE, their menacing AI companion who’s given the live portion of Bring Me’s ‘Post Human’ era an apocalyptic narrative, seems more interested in sarcastic comments than the destruction of mankind. “What do you mean you haven’t heard the new album yet?” she asks the crowd, poking fun at the ongoing delays before airing snippets of all the unreleased tracks and getting the audience to record gang vocals (“Hello Oli you fucking knobhead” and “Did you think you had us fool”) for an upcoming track. “You really want to hear more of this shit?” she asks before the encore. 

There’s still plenty of bone-crunching carnage as well, though, with the likes of ‘Amen’, ‘Obey’ and ‘Shadow Moses’ instigating mosh pits without the band having to say a word. “Look after each other. We’re good, but we’re not worth dying for,” Oli explains. Just as powerful is the big moments of heartfelt sentimentality that litter the set. ‘Die4u’ and a stripped-back ‘Strangers’ are odes to the relationship between artist and audience, while a career-spanning video retrospective also highlights the fierce loyalty Bring Me inspire. A closing run of ‘Drown’, ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ and ‘Doomer’ dials up that vulnerability even further before the cathartic release of sugar-soaked, rainbow-driven electro-punk number ‘Lost’. “We are living proof that anyone can do this shit,” grins Oli before the urgent, victorious ‘Throne’. “And if anyone tells you differently, tell them to fuck off.”