Sempiternal is the fourth studio album by British metalcore band Bring Me the Horizon. It was released on 1 April 2013 worldwide through RCA, a subsidiary label of Sony Music Entertainment, and 2 April 2013 in the United States and Canada through Epitaph. It is the first album to feature former Worship keyboardist Jordan Fish and was believed to be the last album to feature guitarist Jona Weinhofen. However, Weinhofen's role within the album's development has been faced with controversy.
Written and recorded throughout 2012, Sempiternal showed the band pool diverse influences from electronic music, ambient music and pop. "Sempiternal" is an archaic English word denoting the concept of "everlasting time" that can never actually come to pass. It stems from the Latin word "sempiternus" (a concatenation of root "semper" and suffix "aeternum").
The album has thus far spawned four singles ("Shadow Moses"; "Sleepwalking"; "Go to Hell, for Heaven's Sake"; and "Can You Feel My Heart"). The album made its debut at No. 3 on the UK Album Chart and is their second successive album to top the ARIA Charts in Australia. It also managed to reach No. 11 on the US Billboard Chart with 27,522 first week sales, making Sempiternal the band's highest charting album in America until That's the Spirit debuted at No. 2 in 2015. Upon its release, the album received critical acclaim.
In 2011, Bring Me the Horizon were finishing up the tour that was held in support of the band's previous album There Is a Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let's Keep It a Secret. Afterward, they had intentions to issue a remix extended play consisting of electronica remixes of tracks off the album, all done by British electronic producer Draper, aiming for a tentative January 2012 release. However, because of the band's situation with their then-label Visible Noise, it was cancelled. Later that year, in July, it was announced that the band would be releasing their fourth album on RCA Records.
Although the band's split from Visible Noise wasn't strictly aggressive, the band wanted to join a major record label due the lack of resources and support an independent label could offer during the album's development and promotion. An example of this is where front-man Oliver Sykes and his brother, Tom, who directed the movie wanted to release a "behind-the-scenes" documentary of Bring Me the Horizon's tour called "Lads On Tour". This was to be a part of a re-release of their third album. However this didn't happen as Visible Noise couldn't pay for certain parts of the film. RCA Records have given Bring Me the Horizon lengthy support since their signing, the label introduces their signing of Bring Me the Horizon with the statement "signing you is as important as signing Metallica".
Writing and recording
In 2012, the band decided to stop both their touring and media appearances, choosing to fully focus on writing and recording their next album. Rhythm guitarist Jona Weinhofen is quoted as saying "we're not very good at getting motivated to write on tour". The album was written in the Lake District, this keeps with the band's tradition of favouring isolation to write their music. Previous examples of where they've written was Arboga, Sweden for Suicide Season and rural Scotland for There Is a Hell. They felt that they didn't need the isolated environment as much since they had a couple of months to rest after the tour for their previous album. However this posed as an obstacle for the band as they had too long of a break from song writing. The band initially wanted to begin recording the album in May 2012, however, Sykes believed it was too soon and that the band should just demo for a few months instead.
The band posted several images of themselves recording at a Top Secret Studio Location, which was later revealed to be the Angelic Studio in Banbury, Oxfordshire. The band announced that by September they would be entering the studio for pre-production of the album. In an interview with The Guardian Sykes stated that a majority of the album was recorded on his laptop.
Vocalist Oliver Sykes revealed in an interview with Kerrang! that Jordan Fish of Worship had been working closely with Bring Me the Horizon in the studio, helping write the album and contribute electronics. His role developed over the course of writing the album as he was initially there to be instructed by the band in what to do but he slowly started to have more say in the album's writing. As his role continued he eventually became "essential" to the framework of the album and that he became "one of the leaders in terms of composition". Sykes has said how both Fish, lead guitarist Lee Malia and himself would spend days writing in his own home. Throughout the development of the album he was never announced as an official member of the band but would tour with the band in support of Sempiternal. However in early 2013 Rock Sound magazine confirmed Fish had left Worship and joined Bring Me the Horizon to become a six piece band. By the middle of September it was announced that Terry Date, who is known for his work with bands like Deftones, Limp Bizkit and Pantera would be the album's producer. Sykes said he admires Date's production work shown on White Pony and Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water. Sykes believes that some of the work Date has done on the band's production makes Bring Me the Horizon sound like a completely different band.
In an interview with Canadian synthpop artist Lights by Metal Hammer after her collaboration on two songs on There Is a Hell: "Crucify Me" and "Don't Go". She was asked whether there was plans for her to collaborate with the band in the future, she responded with "No plans at the moment but I won't rule it out! I'd love to if the chance ever presented itself." But despite this interest the band decided against having guest places in the album as they felt they would be too gimmicky. However, the band used the members of post-rock band Immanu El for backing vocals across the album. On 3 November 2012, the band invited fans and the Drop Dead Clothing team to enter Angelic Studios to record the gang vocals for Sempiternal. Jordan Fish acted as a conductor for the crowd.
Controversy of credit to Jona Weinhofen
Member Jona Weinhofen, who played rhythm guitar in Bring Me the Horizon, left the band January 2013 "for things in the band have been very tense with a lot of disagreements between myself and certain members who i wont name (sic)." After making his departure, it became apparent that Weinhofen made claims that he wrote and recorded a majority of the finalized riffs for Sempiternal, as well as stating that he wrote lyrics for the record. During February 2013, Oliver Sykes used Twitter to contradict Weinhofen's statements. His tweets collectively read: "I would like to advise our fans NOT to believe the comments or answers given by Jona Weinhofen regarding our album 'Sempiternal'. He composed none of the final riffs or music heard on the record, and recorded absolutely nothing heard on the record also. He had no involvement with the lyrics, nor were any lyric meanings ever disclosed to him."
The song on the album titled "Antivist" was reportedly written about Weinhofen. The first time it was played, Sykes made the statement "This song is called 'Antivist.’ It goes out to Jona Weinhofen."
Influences, style and themes
Despite Sykes' doubts about joining a major record label and how it would affect the band's musical output (believing they would try to convince Bring Me the Horizon to release something more radio friendly), RCA and Sony pushed the band to "write the heaviest album they can." However, instead of going for a heavier sound, Bring Me the Horizon pooled more diverse influences in preparation for the writing of Sempiternal. During the development of the album, Sykes said that he and Jordan Fish were inspired by all the music they heard throughout their daily life and thought about how it applied to their style. Taking influence from ambient music, dance, reggae and pop music and both the soundscapes and "weird pianos" from film soundtracks. Sykes had stated specifically that Danny Boyle films like 28 Days Later and The Beach saying: "Before we [Bring Me the Horizon] wrote the album, we would play his 28 Days Later theme tune." The album is also seen as taking the electronic elements that have progressively surfaced of the band's career and incorporated them into the foundation of the songs.
Describing the album as blending pieces of their previous three albums and then creating "a whole new sound" Sykes summarises the album as having a "massively" influenced by various electronic music genres. He also commented on how the album would explore similar territory as their third album There Is a Hell. This was due to the fact that the ground covered by the album gave room for further experimentation. The sound of the album is seen as still being as aggressive as their typical work but having choruses that are "made for arenas" and a lot of electronic-influenced hooks. Sykes also sees the album as possessing a very euphoric "happy sad" feeling and this is shown where one of the tracks on the album surfaced to sound like the soundtrack to the end of the world.
The album's track listing is arranged to fuel a conceptual interpretation. The album, which is penned by Sykes, is lyrically more positive and tongue-in-cheek in comparison to the dark lyricisms of the previous album, There Is a Hell. The album's lyrics are also focus on self-reflective themes of analysing the consequences of someone's actions on people's lives and transforming them into apologies and described as having "a more considerate, contemplative and self-aware demeanour". Sykes explained that while There Is a Hell. examined mannerisms such as dealing with great amounts of depression, Sempiternal examines learning how to deal with that stress. Despite the proclaimed positivity of the album in an interview with Kerrang! magazine where they review the songs track by track Sykes makes several references to "a problem" which cohesively binds the tracks themes together. The lyrics are also cited as possessing anti-religious connotations, with Sykes summarising this by saying "I'm an atheist so it's all about not believing in God. Before the album I was put in a position where I was asked to believe in God to get better, I was in a shitty place and I was asked to put my faith in God". The lyrical structure is also seen as following a "yin-and-yang". Heard in songs like "Can You Feel My Heart," where the lyrics polarise with "the higher I get, the lower I sink".
The introductory song "Can You Feel My Heart" was a musical experiment which helped sculpt the style of Sempiternal. The song was the first song which Fish "really got his teeth into" which is shown in the heavy use of electronica. The song's looped vocal pattern was created by Fish as Sykes couldn't think of lyrics that fit in the chorus, but they then became a significant part of the song's structure. The song starts with cascading walls of electronica breaking into a mid-tempo song. The song is credited by Sykes as "admitting you have a problem, and admitting some thing's wrong. That's the first step of the whole album."
"The House of Wolves" is a song about Sykes dealing with pressures to become religious to help overcome personal problems. Lee Malia described the song as having a more Suicide Season inspired sound and having a Glassjaw-influenced chorus.
Release and promotion
On 5 November 2012 the band announced that they had hosted a website domain for the album sempiternal.info in which they release an audio clip of "Shadow Moses" and displayed a video which eventually forms a symbol which became a part of the album's cover art. On 9 November the band played a free gig in their home town of Sheffield before co-headlining the UK Warped Tour Festival in London with Lostprophets. On 14 January 2013, an "Album Teaser" video was released on Bring Me the Horizon's VEVO account. At the end of this video it was revealed that the album is scheduled to be released on 29 April 2013. All formats/editions of the album can be pre-ordered. Several different packages are available, with some including a t-shirt.
On 23 February 2013, Sempiternal was leaked onto the internet two months before the release date. This however received a positive response from the band as they prepared something due to the "phenomenal demand". This then led to the band streaming the album online until its release date, which was pushed forward from 29 April and 30 April to 1 April and 2 April for Worldwide and North American release, respectively. When asked about the leak of Sempiternal, Sykes commented by saying: "I'd make a play for it happening because I was so sure. Music is free now, if you don't want to pay for music then you don't pay for music. Everyone takes that privilege. As a musician you've got to accept that nowadays."
The first single from the album, "Shadow Moses", debuted on Daniel P. Carter's Rock Show on BBC Radio 1 on 4 January 2013. "Shadow Moses" was officially released as a single on iTunes on 14 January 2013, reaching No. 80 in the Official UK Singles Chart, their first top 100 entry. On 18 February 2013, the band announced that they will release the song "Antivist" as a new song, given that enough people tweet #antivist. The new song's artwork was displayed in .GIF format on the website antivistreveal.com. On 19 February 2013, "Antivist" was released on Soundcloud and YouTube. The song isn't a single.
On 4 March 2013, the band released the second music video from Sempiternal which was "Sleepwalking" on YouTube via the band's VEVO channel and Epitaph Record's channel. The band announced on their Facebook and Twitter pages that their third single would be Go to Hell, for Heaven's Sake and would officially release the song as a single on 10 June.
Tours and performances
Bring Me the Horizon embarked on their first headline tour of the United States in support of Sempiternal. The tour, known as The American Dream Tour had permanent support from Of Mice & Men and Issues, while letlive. were the opening act for the majority of the tour and Northlane opened on 11 of the dates in their absence.
They finished their last Sempiternal show on 5 December 2014 at the Wembley Arena. This marked the end of the Sempiternal-focused era of Bring Me the Horizon and the break they will use to make a new album.
The album debuted in the United Kingdom at number 3 on the album chart and number 1 on the rock chart with over 9,000 copies sold in its first week. In the US, projections of the album selling between 24,000 and 27,000 in its first week were confirmed as it sold over 27,000- achieving a place of number 11 on the Billboard 200.
Upon its release, the album was met with critical acclaim. At Metacritic, which assigns a Standard score|normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream music critics, the album received an average score of 81, based on 12 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".
In a positive review of the album, Drew Beringer of AbsolutePunk said the album "has just as much substance as it has style."
All songs written and composed by Oliver Sykes, Lee Malia and Jordan Fish.
|1.||"Can You Feel My Heart"||3:47|
|2.||"The House of Wolves"||3:25|
|3.||"Empire (Let Them Sing)"||3:45|
|5.||"Go to Hell, for Heaven's Sake"||4:02|
|7.||"And the Snakes Start to Sing"||5:01|
|8.||"Seen It All Before"||4:07|
|11.||"Hospital for Souls"||6:44|
|Deluxe edition bonus disc – The Deathbeds EP|
|1.||"Join the Club"||3:06|
|3.||"Deathbeds" (featuring Hannah Snowdon)||4:57|
|Japanese bonus tracks|
|12.||"Join the Club"||3:06|
|13.||"Deathbeds" (featuring Hannah Snowdon)||4:57|
|iTunes deluxe edition bonus tracks|
|12.||"Join the Club"||3:06|
|13.||"Chasing Rainbows" (US iTunes deluxe edition exclusive)||4:00|
|14.||"Deathbeds" (featuring Hannah Snowdon)||4:57|
- Kaufman, Spencer (11 April 2013). Bring Me the Horizon, ‘Sempiternal’ – Album Review. Loudwire. (Townsquare Media). “While fully embracing their metalcore roots, the band aims to redefine the genre with ‘Sempiternal.’”
- East, Brandon (7 April 2013). Sempiternal Review. Ultimate Guitar Archive. “[This] album could probably best be described as metalcore. ... [Bring Me the Horizon] still have a predominantly "metalcore" sound, but they have added in a lot of ambient passages in their songs and have minimized the heavy breakdowns. The vocals don't get anywhere near a death metal growl on [Sempiternal].”
- Burian, Ashley (6 June 2013). Review: Bring Me the Horizon – Sempiternal (LP). adamNOTeve. “[Bring Me the Horizon] now find themselves constructing an album blending traditional metalcore and subtle elements best characterised as the ever developing genre of electronicore. ... Not since Enter Shikari’s 2009 album “Common Dreads” have I heard such fine utilisation and integration of synth and electronica into the recording and composition of post-hardcore/metalcore music. ... The album does a stellar job in displaying all the hallmarks of a typically great metalcore album and the integration of electronica and clean vocals (be it intentional or not) is sure to open up the band to a myriad of new listeners from more mainstream circles...”
- Bring Me The Horizon - Sempiternal review. Metal Storm (2 April 2013). “Sempiternal is a post-hardcore release with some heavy electronic hints. ... The guitars have a nice, light, non-metal tone, which complements the electronics quite well.”
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