Band: Bullet For My Valentine
Reviewer: Curt Ubank
Bullet For My Valentine are a band that constantly pop up on many heavy metal radars. From being splashed across the front covers of Metal Hammer and Kerrang, to headlining massive stages at Download and Sonisphere through the mid 2000’s, Its downright impossible to meet a metalhead who hasn’t heard of them. They’ve cranked out 5 studio efforts since their signing in 2002, and have endured the usual band member replacements, losing drummer Nick Crandle several years back. Their particular strain of heaviness falls somewhere between Metalcore and Heavy Rock, depending on what album you’re spinning, and it’s a variety that few bands can pull off, especially for almost 20 years.
Now admittedly, I haven’t listened to Bullet in a decent while, I’d had their 2008 effort “Scream, Aim, Fire” on fairly heavy rotation back when it came out, but every now and again a track would pop up on my playlist, and the familiarity would return. Well, Matt Tuck and Co. certainly have something distinctive to their sound that makes them instantly recognisable.
Their new Album “Gravity” is one of the hotly anticipated metal discs of 2018, and from the opening electronic pulsing of “Leap of Faith” its obvious why. This isn’t an album with a slow build intro, immediately throwing from the almost-spoken verse, into a handful of blast beats, then headlong into a classic “Bullet Chorus”. Matt Tuck’s familiar vocal delivery blending seamlessly into the almost haunting guitars. It’s a clear statement that their plan to musically evolve is set, and its brilliant.
“Over It” is a crunchy, mosh-worthy track from the get go, wearing its metal-core influence on its sleeve, in contrast to “Letting You Go”, which begins with a haunting, beautiful intensity, bringing a musical depth that matches their skillful riffing perfectly. “Not Dead Yet” blasts in with an anthemic start, Echoing backing vocals, layered key chimes and crowd-involving “Whoas” abound, and its obvious that this track will end up on a festival setlist very soon. “The Very Last Time” on the other hand, has a chilling, ballad-like opening, unlike anything I’d expected to hear on this record. It has an icy, echoing quality that’s absolutely gorgeous, and when the guitars finally hit, it only builds the sense of tension. Its surprising, different and absolutely glorious. “Pieces Of Me” is a stark contrast, shattering through the ice into a high energy banger of a track. Along with the following, “Under Again” and title track “Gravity”, it’s the classic “Bullet For My Valentine” sound that fans are looking for, with a few new techniques thrown in to keep things fresh.
BFMV have decided to experiment with a lot of elements this time around, and the very electronic “Coma” starts off with a dreamlike melancholy, with synth present still buried under layered guitars. The verses are delivered with a subdued calm that creates a fantastic atmosphere for the melodic chorus. The tail end of the track builds, leading us into the heavy spikey-ness that is “Don’t Need You”. Its chugging and meaty, fast and coarse. It’s a total headbanger by the chorus, and would be a formidable track to hear while caught in a mosh pit. We have an abrupt end, and last track “Breathe Underwater” slowly fades in with passionate vocals and acoustic guitars. The heartfelt delivery and water-like distortion playing well with the lyrical themes, its suffocating and beautiful all at the same time, its a unique approach to a closing track, and it flows perfectly alongside the rest of the album’s almost experimental material.
Its clear from the outset that Vocalist Matt Tuck, Guitarist Michael Paget, Bassist Jamie Mathias and recently recruited drummer Jason Bowld have made an album that’s as different as it is the same. It feels familiar, and so very BFMV, while bringing new and exciting elements to their sound. They’re no longer a purely Metal-core outfit, but longtime fans will still feel very much at home with the new tracks. It’s rare to see, and a lot of fun to hear.