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29 March 2013

Bring Me The Horizon

Meet the British metalcore band Bring Me The Horizon. Formed in 2004, they got their name from the final line of the film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, in which Captain Jack Sparrow says "Now, bring me that horizon."


When I first heard them, I was drawn to the passionate vocals and their aggressive, energetic sound. Despite explicit lyrical content, I sensed their frustrated, yet focused pursuit of truth. In their song "Crucify Me", lead singer Oliver Sykes screams, "There is a Hell, believe me, I've seen it! There is a Heaven, let's keep it a secret! No one needs to know! I am the ocean; I am the sea. There is a world inside of me." Josh Scogin, singer for Christian metalcore band The Chariot, sings guest vocals later on in this album.

After numerous awards, an exploding fan base, multiple millions of YouTube views, and headlining various tours and festivals, BMTH is poised to release their next album on April 2nd--Sempiternal. Unfortunately for the band, the album leaked online a couple months ago. I was really looking forward to seeing the direction they went, so I checked out the songs. I had high hopes. Musically and vocally, it was incredible. Lyrically, it was beyond disappointing. 


Keep in mind: regardless of your thoughts on their music, BMTH didn't get their massive following by accident. They are talented musicians with nearly four million (more than the entire population of nearly half of the countries in the world) Facebook fans and 400,000 Twitter followers that back up that claim. Their top five videos alone have fifty million views on YouTube.

What's sad is that this immense, adoring fan base of primarily fifteen to twenty-five year olds is being pounded with a message of hopelessness. The very first song "Can You Feel My Heart" sets the tone: "Can you save my busted soul?...I long for that feeling to not feel at all. The higher I get, the lower I'll sink. I can't drown my demons, they know how to swim."


His despair turns to all-out hatred in the very next song, "House of Wolves". It appears that they have had horrible experiences with the church as Sykes belts out, "Show me a sign, show me a reason to give a solitary **** about your ******* beliefs...What you call faith, I call a sorry excuse. Cloak and daggers murder the truth...The house of wolves you built will burn just like a thousand suns. So when you die, the only kingdom you'll see is two feet wide and six feet deep!"


There is a glimmer of hope that comes through in arguably the best song on the record, "Sleepwalking": "My skin's smothering me. Help me find a way to breathe...Wake up! Take my hand, and give me a reason to start again." You can watch the recently-released video for this song below.

Their song "Shadow Moses" is the theme song of the album as it repeats the three words over and over (nearly twenty times) that sum up Sempiternal: "WE'RE GOING NOWHERE". It is heart-wrenching to hear Sykes repeatedly and hopelessly scream, "Can you tell from the look in our eyes? We're going nowhere. We live our lives like we're ready to die. We're going nowhere!"


The music is so powerful that it is easy to get drawn in, but the pervasive message is one of emptiness and leaves you hollow. Each word is dripping with deep-seated pain, and whether these guys believe it or not, they need hope. Their fame has brought them no joy. Thousands upon thousands of their worshiping fans singing their songs along with them each night has brought no peace to their souls. They need something more--just like the rest of us. They need new life.

The last straw for me was their song "Crooked Young". Sykes mocks believers: "**** your faith. No one's gonna save you. **** your faith. There's no hope for us." He later adds, "Believe in no one but yourself. The faceless won't save you. The clouds won't hear your ****ing prayers!" As a believer in Christ and the hope found in Him, it was tragic hearing BMTH's disillusionment with faith. The song ends with apparent ridicule of Jesus Himself: "Hallelujah! I say it's a miracle. Thank you, Jesus! Hallelujah! I say: **** your faith!"


This is just one band. There are countless others like them that have differing levels of success, but promote a similar message of despair and disillusion. Every night at shows and each moment via headphones, the massive and ever-increasing fan bases of these bands hear their idols spout "There's no hope for us!" ("Crooked Young").


Will anyone reach out to them? What if some of these band members found rest for their restless souls? What if their passionate message of hopelessness became one of hope? It would immediately influence thousands and in some cases like Bring Me the Horizon's, millions. Imagine the potential for changed lives. It's something to think about. 

23 March 2013

To Athens and Back!

I need to get caught up on this blog! One of the highlights of 2013 thus far was having my friends Daniel and Emily Schuring come to visit. 

Unfortunately, they came right in the middle of one of Central Europe's biggest snowstorms in recent history. We had no choice but to go south in search of acceptable weather. After getting the go-ahead from TWR to use some vacation days, we planned an eight-day trip in a matter of hours.

What initially looked like a short trip to a neighboring country ended up in an adventure we will never forget that took us through Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, and then all the way back to Slovakia in my recently acquired '99 Peugeot 206.

We made a blog that we updated throughout the trip with photos and videos. You can see that HERE. It includes tales of being pulled over by police, being stopped at the border, hitting an owl, breaking down in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere in Albania, and much more. :)

 Dubrovnik, Croatia

 Mostar, Bosnia

 Istanbul, Turkey

 Athens, Greece

Zagreb, Croatia