A Decade Later, I Try To Figure Out Why I Loved Bring Me The Horizon’s Suicide Season So Much
Whenever I get into a conversation with people my age about the late-noughties period of Screamo & Metalcore that took the internet generation by storm, I typically receive a mixed bag of reactions that vary from utter disgust to incredibly strong nostalgia for the once-prolific genres. Some people – usually those who were directly involved in the formation of such genres – find immense joy in the bombastic instrumentation & guttural screams of the sound, claiming it allowed them to express their innermost angst in a pleasantly bold manner, but the vast majority of people I talk to claim it’s nothing but nonsense noise used for shock value that holds no melodic integrity whatsoever – As someone who spent years performing in touring bands from 2006 to 2014 promoting these aesthetics, I feel a distinct sense of alienation from anyone who says they don’t understand it at all since my contemporaries & I had such a heavy hand in the formation of the genres themselves, my ex-Hardcore & Punk brethren & I putting our all into the most aggressive arrangements we could to gain street cred, or rather internet cred, within the fading confines of Myspace, the social media platform where Screamo & Metalcore found its biggest audience in Scene Kids. This music was the best platform we had to express who we were, allowing us to find a niche culture all our own much in the same way Trappers on SoundCloud have their own unique subculture to champion in the modern day, yet I can’t help but feel like the massive strides we made in improving the genre are lost on today’s listeners who’ve grown up with a very polished & refined Rock music industry wholly informed by Pop media; You just don’t get the same sort of blood-curdling screams & poignant narratives of teenage insecurity now that mental health issues & depression are all the rage in mainstream Pop radio, so trying to observe what made these genres so delightful is incredibly difficult as you really had to be there to understand how amazing it was joining voices with a crowd of ragamuffins at Warped Tour throwing your fists around to a bunch of drop-C tuned open-chord breakdowns & shouting about how death is preferable to living in obscurity – Of all the bands in this scene, there’ve been hundreds of groups who hold a special place in my heart that’ve yet to see the fame they truly deserve, but perhaps the band who changed the public perception of Screamo & Metalcore – specifically Deathcore, in fact – is undoubtedly Bring Me The Horizon, one of the few remaining bands of the era who’re still driving audiences crazy today. They’re a far-cry from the band they were in my day, but their success can be directly linked to their second & most prolific album Suicide Season, a record which defined a generation & split audiences straight down the middle, fracturing the scene into two distinct groups of people who would either stick to their old-world mindset or continue to shell out clones of the sound until the current day, literally a curse & a blessing marking the end of the scene altogether.
A New Challenger Enters The Ring!
Ever since the late-eighties, the harder side of Rock music was almost exclusively an American force of nature, with Punk almost always hailing from the California Bay Area, Hardcore typically stemming from the Boston scene, Grunge flooding out from the Northwest corner of the nation & Metal sort of floating all around, producing pretty much everything a good hesher, Scene Kid or Alternative rabble-rouser would identify themselves with. The UK naturally had some pretty stellar entries of their own, mostly when it came to Classic Rock or the Dance Rock invasion of the early-noughties, but everything changed in the late-noughties when Bring Me The Horizon hit the scene, bringing with them a highly-refined from of Deathcore & Screamo music that sent listeners such as myself into a frenzy, thinking ‘how the fuck are these guys so god-damned good at what they do?’ It was like nothing any of us had ever heard & it only got better when they released Suicide Season, an album full of tracks that hearkened back to bands like Converge, Hatebreed & The Bled in their very rigid structures & decidedly treble-heavy recording quality yet somehow capturing the more melodic essence of American Southern Metal from bands like August Burns Red & Memphis May Fire that put more value in bass tones & chaotic personality rather than simply trying to act tough; These were, after all, a bunch of scrawny Englishmen with straightened-hair covering their eyes & very feminine features that weren’t as conventionally-threatening as your average Hardcore or Metal bands were beforehand – I think “The Comedown” is a stellar example of this aesthetic, packing in as much unbridled rage as possible into a constant onslaught of melodic momentum, featuring dissonant-chords & pinches all over the place, Speed Metal-influenced percussion rhythms, a flurry of rhythmic breaks that keep upping the ante riff after riff & a wide selection of vocal tones that remind you of more than a handful of Rock-centric styles that were big at the time. There was no one element that made these songs unique & that was the intended draw-factor, grabbing as wide an audience as possible by literally throwing the entire book of techniques at you, thereby assuring that there’d be at least one note or rhythm somewhere within the song that would strike your fancy Contrast that to my contemporaries who would spend the majority of their time trying to fit-in with one desired aesthetic & you’ll start to understand why this music was so groundbreaking, as they refused to listen to the rules at every turn, literally sitting atop a throne of perfection no one was even considering contending for – I mean, seriously, songs like “No Need For Introductions, I’ve Read About Girls Like You On The Backs Of Toilet Doors” have no singular identity, giving them an astounding quality that is guaranteed to introduce listeners to at least one aesthetic they’ve never heard of before, rendering the tune a work of creative genius even though it’s really just a mix of The Bled, Norma Jean & Slayer when you really think about it.
The Sound That Broke The Industry
When Suicide Season first dropped, I actually had a deep hatred for Bring Me The Horizon & anyone who was a fan of them, although it was admittedly for a very selfish reason – I was jealous as fuck. You see, Bring Me The Horizon introduced the Screamo & Metalcore scenes to the most amazing sound anyone had heard in a mainstream setting, that being the distinctive depth of low-end bass which persisted throughout all of their songs thanks to the drop-D & drop-C tuning they’d used in their compositions. Now, this tuning obviously wasn’t anything revolutionary, as I’d been listening to Black Metal & Death Metal bands like The Black Dahlia Murder & Gorgoroth among others using it for decades, bur BMTH employed it in a way nobody had really heard before, using it to bolster their breakdowns & increase the intensity of otherwise nondescript guitar lines, all recorded with such phenomenal processing that they sounded far more professional than even the biggest Myspace-era Metalcore band like Underoath whose recordings sounded like they were made with a potato – Take a listen to “Chelsea Smile,” the second track & easily the most-recognized off of Suicide Season. This jam hits you like a ton of bricks from the moment the song starts, overwhelming you with this insanely-loud, forever-vibrating tonality that combines the metallic sound of guitar strings with the unsettling pop of a vocalist’s vocal-fry in a way that instantly conjures visions of demonic hordes storming Helm’s Deep in a last-ditch suicide attack, overwhelming the senses by dropping out a lot of the track’s mid-tones in favour of a 60% bass, 10% mids & 30% treble mix which envelops you in a shroud of noise unlike any other; You feel cramped & surrounded, unable to escape your impending doom & this is precisely what makes such a sound feel so utterly mesmerizing to behold. Everyone in the scene absolutely HAD to have that sound but we were all too inexperienced to figure it out, snapping strings left & right as well as buying entire new rigs just to emulate the incredible Beatdown aesthetics we were hearing, genuinely changing the way an entire generation of Rock musicians thought as well as spawning the trends that would persist to this day in Hard Rock, Rap Rock & Screamo music – On the opposite end of the spectrum you have songs like “Sleep With One Eye Open” that feel a lot more anachronistic, utilizing a rather Speed Metal-like rhythm & the ghastly high-pitched banshee screams of Death Metal as well as simplistic instrumentation classic heshers would love, what with all the treble-centric double-bass pedals & repetitive breakdowns that slow down measure-by-measure to encourage fighting in the pit, but even this classically-informed song gains new life thanks to the aforementioned recording techniques that give it a somewhat cinematic sense of scale & intensity. I didn’t want to love it, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t impressed by every single note they performed, embodying the innermost anguish of kids my age whilst raising the bar of musicianship to a level that challenged the whole scene, inspiring us to either get better as musicians or give up entirely.
Start With A Jab, End With A Haymaker
The last bit of Suicide Season I believe made it as influential a record as it is has to be the fact that it not only changed the Metalcore & Screamo scenes as they were at the time, it simultaneously set the precedent for what these genres would become 5 years down the road with its titular song “Suicide Season,” the final track on the album which showed how forward-thinking Bring Me The Horizon were as an entity. Whereas the previous songs I mentioned took a lot of inspiration from the past to reinvigorate the industry, this track was pushing a sound that would become the gold-standard for recording in the following years, featuring a massive, wide-open sonic theme that was & still is incredibly epic, proving that the medium of screaming-focused music could encapsulate the very essence of despair & anguish in a highly-expressive form factor. You had a vocal style that of slightly-melodic shouting rather than straight-up screaming, blaring guitars that rang out ad infinitum as if scoring the final moments of an apocalyptic dream-sequence & a decidedly atmospheric sound that wasn’t as concerned with the frenetic finger-work that had been standard around then, all coming together to push a larger than life vibe which would in-turn satisfy the marketing tactics of record labels who were only interested in signing bands who could easily sell-out arenas as headlining acts, their massive presence automatically worth much more money in ticket sales than your average Screamo act who still sounded like they were recording in a garage; These guys weren’t going to be slumming it at cramped bars or playing church shows, rather they were destined for greatness from the get-go thanks to the best studio mixing in the industry – Naturally, everyone followed suit in the aftermath, applying tons of unnecessary reverb to their recordings & adopting a rather sludge-like tempo that made every song feel like the final track on an album, leading you into the darkness & challenging the listener with more expressive & emotive narratives they could see themselves shedding a tear to. With such a precedent set, it’s no wonder Bring Me The Horizon were winning countless awards from Rock music outlets & getting featured on pretty much every cover of Kerrang! Magazine back in the day, deservedly winning the hearts of millions & leaving their mark – for better or worse – on the industry for nearly a decade, a feat that gives their latest experimental masterpiece Amo that much more impact when you consider how far they’ve come in such a short time – I don’t expect everyone to find Suicide Season as breathtaking as I have, ‘cause it really only shows its worth to those who’ve lived in the scene as long as I have, but I’d be remiss not to acknowledge just how delightful a record it is in hindsight after all my prejudice & jealousy has faded away.
2. Track List (10)
3. Official (10)
4. Live (4)
5. Featuring Remixes (5)
7. Similar Albums
8. Similar Artists (8)
9. Album Info
- Bring Me the Horizon