Joining the likes of Barry Manilow, Muse and Adele on the rumour list for Glastonbury Festival 2016, Sheffield’s Bring Me The Horizon are hotly-tipped to make their debut at Worthy Farm this June. Insider sources inform us they’re booked to headline the Other Stage. Is it time we had another metal band (don’t forget Nine Inch Nails in 2000) ruling from the Other Stage throne? Chris Swindells argues That’s the Glastonbury Spirit.
When Metallica (how long did you think it would take me to mention them?) were named for Glastonbury 2014 it was pandemonium. The whole world and his dog had an opinion on the nine-time Grammy Award winners and multi-million selling heavy metal band playing another music festival. The Guardian labelled it “a half-baked vanity project”, Jarvis Cocker deemed them “a bit abrasive” and petition enthusiasts even tried to ban the band over frontman James Hetfield’s “vile obsession with Bear Hunting”.
For a brief second it was like being back in 1988 when hair metal was the greatest threat to our youth and ‘Parental Advisory’ stickers were necessary because Slayer fans were going to go f**k your mum, burn down a church and sacrifice six hundred and sixty six virgins.
Two decades have passed since then and we’ve come to learn that all we need fear from metal fans is an above average IQ, fewer Ashley Madison leaks and head-banger’s whiplash claims.
But Bring Me The Horizon aren’t Metallica. They aren’t hair metal, thrash metal, rap metal, or whatever your mum worries about. They’re metalcore. Admittedly now a benign form of nu-metalcore, the sort of cast-off relationship that Limp Bizkit claim to have to Faith No More, but still - the metal thing is important.
For years Glastonbury Festival has professed a kind of co-operative ideal, dreams of forging a utopian sanctuary where travellers, new age types, pill heads and festival junkies can exist harmoniously.
But there’s been a flaw in the logic: so many people haven’t felt welcome. Classical music lovers, metallers and Mark E Smith, for example.
Now they’ve finally dropped the lifetime ban on Mr Smith, isn’t it time the festival sent Philip Glass and Cannibal Corpse their invites?
I first saw Bring Me the Horizon at the Islington Academy back in early 2006. The band were still in their teens and working through material for their debut album. In short shorts, longline tees and with arms inked to the bone, it felt like they were at the zeitgeist of an underground movement fuelled by Myspace and Maybelline.
The support bill that night was Centurion, Clone The Fragile and Architects. A decade on, only one of those three bands are left standing.
All of the British metal hullabaloo of the time couldn’t last and from the ashes of that scene Bring Me The Horizon emerged, inspired and ambitious, leaving UK indie Visible Noise to join RCA and going on to work with the likes of Skrillex, Draper, Slipknot, Utah Saints, Terry Date, Fredrik Nordström and The Secret Handshake.
It was with an increasingly progressive mindset that the band started experimenting with electronica and the results took them to new plateaus of international stardom. Bring Me The Horizon have now thrice topped the album charts in Australia, chalked up a total of three top 20 US Billboard charting records and entered the UK Album Charts at number two with this year’s ‘That’s the Spirit’.
They certainly haven’t been without their critics. Still shunned by large parts of the metal community, in 2008 I saw them bottled and booed as they played Reading Festival’s main stage, a last-minute replacement for Slipknot.
Fast forward seven years and seeing them deputise before Metallica at the very same festival in 2015 felt genuinely like seeing a new challenger to the tyranny of rock festival headliners. Their Rocky Balboa moment.
Alright they’re not Satryicon, they’re not even Mastodon, but they’re British and they’re in the ascendant. Radio 1 playlisted, arena status, platinum-selling metal giants; Bring Me The Horizon aren’t fighting for recognition from the establishment, they’ve become the establishment. A point no better demonstrated than by their forthcoming charity show at the Royal Albert Hall, backed by a full orchestra.
They might have lost the blast beats and death growls, discovered clean vocals and a white wash, but the aggression and general sense of doom mongering hasn’t escaped the boys from Sheffield. For this reason their challenge to play Glastonbury could be as important for British music as it is for the festival. It proves that metal in this decade is more than nostalgia for Motorhead (RIP) and Metallica. It has a future and the future is here.
Glastonbury Festival 2016 takes place at Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset from Wednesday 22nd – Sunday 26th June.
Coldplay, PJ Harvey and Jeff Lynne’s ELO are the first major artists to be confirmed for the Glastonbury Festival 2016 line-up.
Foals, New Order, Grimes, LCD Soundsystem, Barry Gibb, Drake, Paul McCartney, and ZZ Top are all leading rumours for Glastonbury Festival 2016.
Glastonbury Festival 2016 tickets sold out in just minutes when they went on sale in October 2015. A resale of tickets that are returned unpaid will take place this spring, more details to be announced nearer the time.