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Bullet For My Valentine – Bullet For My Valentine Award winner

Bullet For My Valentine
Bullet For My Valentine
by Mark Machlay at 01 February 2022, 5:46 AM

Metal stalwarts BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE released their self-titled seventh full-length release early in November of 2021 and it seems to be a bit of a reinvention for the band or as vocalist and guitarist Matt Tuck puts it “this is the beginning of Bullet 2.0”. I have been a fan of the band at least since their second album, 2008’s “Scream Aim Fire” and even remember purchasing their first album, 2005’s “The Poison” but it didn’t tickle my fancy at the time. But the band have apparently been going strong since 1998 – although under the title JEFF KILLED JOHN – being forged mainly by Tuck, guitarist Michael “Padge” Paget and original members Nick Crandle on bass and Michael “Moose” Thomas on drums. They have since gone a bit back and forth with their stylistic intent, with their previous album “Gravity” leaning a bit more in the melodic side and, most alarmingly devoid of solos. It certainly divided the fanbase while receiving mostly mixed to negative reviews, but it also saw them playing to some of the biggest shows and hit more than a billion catalogue streams in the U.S. alone.

I’ll admit, I enjoyed “Gravity” but certainly missed the virtuosic tendencies that BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE is more than capable of performing. I also like seeing musicians spend a bit more time on an album to maybe push themselves creatively rather than churn out another album as quickly as possible given the average fans attention span. So, rather than be perturbed to hear that production of what would become their self-titled was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was excited. I imagine the extra time gave the group time to let ideas germinate, maybe even the frustration of having to wait led to new creative breakthroughs. Tuck commented on the making of the album, “it’s pretty brutal, to be honest. It couldn’t be more of a contrast with “Gravity” in a ferocious style. It’s very technical…There’s probably 60 percent aggressive vocals, 40 \[percent] clean, which is a ration we’ve never dabbled with before.”

I’m happy to report Tuck’s words are all true, BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE’s latest is 100%, no-nonsense heavy metal. It’s a bold stylistic choice to have nearly the first two minutes be unintelligible, cacophonic voice and sound effects before launching into the opening scream of “You fucking parasite” on “Parasite” that immediately grabbed my attention and never really wavered. Then there is the opening single “Knives” as the second track which has more a trudging groove metal vibe while still being just as pissed off and raw as the opener. But if you long for the cleaner side of the band “My Reverie” is unmistakably classic BFMV trading between clean and harsh vocals while still sneaking in plenty of lead lines that harken back to prime METALLICA solos from yesteryear. They seem to go back and forth from then on with a more brutal track “No Happy Ever After” followed by “Can’t Escape The Waves” in which I almost hear some Chester Bennington sneaking into the cleaner vocals and is quite possibly the most intriguing – dare I say epic sounding – track on the album. But even “Rainbow Veins” see them stretching further into a groove metal, maybe even channeling some Dimebag Darrel in the lead lines. I hesitate to say it’s a full revolution for the BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE but this self-titled is certainly an evolution and an early contender for one of my favorite releases of year.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Parasite
2. Knives
3. My Reverie
4. No Happy Ever After
5. Can’t Escape the Waves
6. Bastards
7. Rainbow Veins
8. Shatter
9. Paralysed
10. Death by a Thousand Cuts
Lineup:
Matthew Tuck – Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitar
Michael “Padge” Paget – Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals
Jamie Matthias – Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals
Jason Bowld – Drums & Percussion
Record Label: Spinefarm Records
     


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