If you want to get under the skin of Oli Sykes, lead screamer and singer of Bring Me the Horizon, just ask him to label his band’s music.
“I hate it when somebody goes ‘So what do you call yourselves?’” Sykes said in a recent phone interview. “‘Are you a metal band, are you a deathcore band, are you a hardcore band?’ We’re just a band. We’re just a rock and roll band.”
If you go
• What: Bring Me the Horizon, in concert.
• Where: The Roseland Theater, 8 N.W. Sixth Ave., Portland.
• When: 7 p.m. Sept. 5.
• Cost: $20 through TicketsWest, 800-992-8499 or http://ticketswest.com.
There’s no point in defining it further, Skyes said. “People need to open their minds a bit more and just kind of start doing different stuff.”
Bring Me the Horizon is doing its best to set this example by stretching its own musical — ahem — horizons and injecting some fresh energy into metal (or whatever genre one wants to include the band in). The band’s latest album, “There Is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It, There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret,” gives evidence of this effort.
Sykes feels that if bands like Bring Me the Horizon don’t try to think outside of the box musically, it could have larger consequences.
“That was our (goal), at the end of the day, to push the envelope,” Sykes said. “If bands like us don’t start doing stuff like this, the genre is going to meet the same demise as so many genres in the past that have died. Look at new metal, everyone just kept repeating and repeating the same stuff, and people got bored.”
Sykes, in fact, blames Bring Me the Horizon for being too conservative on its 2006 debut release, “Count Your Blessings.”
That changed with the next album, “Suicide Season,” on which the group began incorporating decidedly nonmetal elements, such as programmed rhythms.
“Suicide Season” was embraced by fans, and that only emboldened the band’s work on “There Is a Hell.”
The new CD pushes several extremes while staying within the hardcore/metalcore realm. The songs remain centered around such signature elements as throaty screamed vocals, roiling guitars and pummeling rhythms. But on the song “Crucify Me,” for instance, the band changes things up with a processed female vocal interlude that’s almost comic. “It Never Ends” brings a little progressive rock into the mix, with its symphonic elements and surging, melodic guitars. “Don’t Go” has a decidedly ambient bent. There’s more than a hint of classic rock in the guitar riffs on “Blessed With a Curse.”
Vocal problems almost sidelined this musical evolution, however. Sykes’ struggles forced the group to leave recording sessions for “There Is a Hell” with an uncompleted album — and with dates on the 2010 Warped tour looming.
“I’d go back into London trying to record the vocals every week and I just think it was the pressure and the fear and everything, I just couldn’t get my voice out,” Sykes said.
“It wasn’t until actually we started Warped tour, and I was kind of like ‘Why are we doing Warped tour? I can’t even sing anymore,’” he said. “But the first day on Warped tour, it was like my voice was just fine. As soon as I started singing on stage, I guess all the adrenaline came back.”
The new elements in the band’s sound have spurred Bring Me the Horizon to change its live show. It added backing tracks to re-create electronic sounds, and also brought in strings and backing vocals.
“It was kind of daunting at first and we didn’t know how it would sound,” Sykes said. “It’s not like people expect us to have people coming out with violins.”
What’s also different about Bring Me the Horizon is the arrival of guitarist Jona Weinhofen, who replaced Curtis Ward in 2009. Sykes said the change has had a big effect on the band, which also includes guitarist Lee Malia, bassist Matt Kean and drummer Matt Nicholls.
“At the end of the day, he (Ward) wasn’t happy, and because he wasn’t happy, it was kind of sucking the life out of it all for us,” Sykes said. “(Weinhofen) loves what he’s doing. He loves being in this band. He loves writing music, and touring the world. He loves it just like the four of us do. So just having that enthusiasm and that passion again has kick-started it all again.”