June 20, 2024

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Bring Me the Horizon: Post Human: Nex Gen review – a defining album of our digitally overloaded era | Bring Me the Horizon


In the end, Post Human: Nex Gen – the longest-awaited, most torturously gestated album in mainstream rock today – arrived very suddenly, a gloriously corroded data dump of tens of thousands of points of sonic information dropped last night with just a few hours’ notice.

The Sheffield pop-metallers’ Post Human project began back in 2020 with Survival Horror, a nine-track album which chimed eerily loudly with the Covid pandemic, and not just because of the noisy music: Dear Diary played on the dullness of lockdown (“The sky is falling, it’s fucking boring / I’m going braindead, isolated”) while big single Parasite Eve was written pre-Covid but seemed to pre-empt it with its tale of apocalyptic disease. One chorus couplet, “when we forget the infection / Will we remember the lesson?”, should be written on civil service whiteboards in Whitehall.

Preview of Post Human: Nex Gen. Spotify

Post Human was announced as a four-part project and fans eagerly awaited act two. An album announcement eventually came for September 2023, but it was pushed back, and then Jordan Fish left the band with warm but rather brisk and businesslike announcements from both parties: a big loss, considering the keyboardist and producer was a major force in deepening the band’s sound from 2013’s Sempiternal onwards and making them the arena-filling force they are today. Vague summer 2024 release dates were wafted around, leading to worries of a power vacuum and creative indirection.

Those fears are almost entirely assuaged with an album that is a near-level plateau of high points, some of them really as good as pop music gets.

Five previously released Fish-produced singles remain here, each one a masterpiece, with Die4U perhaps the best song in the entire nine-album BMTH catalogue. After introducing a chorus melody of Justin Bieber prettiness, frontman Oli Sykes pauses, the sound of his breathing a feather-touch of wind on your face. Then comes an explosion of full-bore noise: dynamic contrast doesn’t come bigger or more thrilling. Amen! meanwhile has the brilliant “what if we …?” pairing of Lil Uzi Vert with hardcore legend Daryl Palumbo and a huge Sykes chorus; Darkside is like J-pop meets goth rock in a vast aircraft hangar; Lost is simply one of the greatest pop punk songs of all time; Strangers is a power ballad that’s perfect for waving not lighters but phone lights aloft, suffused as it is – like all of Nex Gen – with the anxiety and aesthetics of digital life.

Die4U.

It’s difficult to know if there are uncredited Fish-y remnants lying around the rest, or if the album was reworked more substantially since his departure. I detect a slightly thinner, tinnier quality to tracks like Kool-Aid, A Bullet W/ My Name On and Youtopia, but couched in the context of the album – a study of cyberpunk futurism which has an ironically chirpy female AI-like voice interjecting like a mallrat Hal 9000 – the band actually make a virtue of that compressed sound (it sounds best on speakers, to let the bass offset the crowded trebles), and these are all terrific, sturdy tracks.

There is so much fiendish detail here, like a heavily encrypted firewall of music – and there’s even data hidden in the songs, with a QR code appearing in a spectrograph of the album’s closing seconds taking you to a mysterious website (an idea nicked from Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero marketing, admittedly, but still cool). Thrillingly, they seem to be leaning harder into the ultra-detailed hyperpop genre that tracks like Lost stepped into. For the still uninitiated, this chronically online subgenre spliced the more garish parts of pop with high-speed breakcore, revelling in post-ironic trash. BMTH have clearly been listening to Underscores, 100 Gecs and the rest, but have the chops to funnel this ultra-processed sound into proper verse-chorus-verse pop – music seemingly built from the very mess of digital information and supply chains that define our daily lives, whether we like it or not.

RIP (Duskcore Remix) is a pell-mell blur of music, like the green spools of numerics in The Matrix turned Technicolor. Closing R&B-inflected ballad Dig It can’t resolve itself and spasms into glitches, and the pachinko-parlour madness of Top 10 Statues That Cried Blood makes it an instant BMTH hall-of-famer: bratty pop-punk with Sykes at his very best, pushing his voice to the edge and experiencing a split-second of silent freefall before the chorus catches him on the offbeat. Again, it’s utterly thrilling songcraft.

That kind of cliff-edge imagery, in fact, is Sykes’s stock in trade. It’s fair to say that he’s been in a comfort zone for lyrics for some time now: personal strife, spiritual crisis and self-destruction, with the social commentary of Survival Horror looking increasingly like a one-off. In a sense the glutted feel of the album is a social comment in itself, and the choruses are so good that they can stand to take generic lyricism – perhaps even benefit from not being fussy or clever. But it’s nice to hear a flash of his mordant wit on N/A, as the addiction he left behind some years ago continues to prowl the edges of his life. The framing device is of an AA meeting (“Hi, my name’s Oli and I’m an addict”), but it turns nightmarish, as the assembled addicts – actually a chorus of fans recorded live on BMTH’s recent arena tour – turn on him: “Hello Oli, you fucking knobhead, did you think you had us fooled?”

Less well judged is Limousine, whose heaviness is well produced but Sykes uses a vocal-fried delivery that is so heavily indebted to Deftones’ Chino Moreno as to be awkward cosplay. A couple of instrumentals aren’t particularly needed either. But these are minor quibbles, especially set against the might of what BMTH have achieved here: anti-nostalgic music that doesn’t turn towards cosy analogue warmth, but faces the 100% screen brightness of the digital age in its beauty, intensity and horror.



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