Some might say Bullet For My Valentine *tempered* their fanbase with 2013’s Temper Temper. Following Fever’s classicly-trained metallic rallying cries with a stripped-down hard rock approach wasn’t exactly the correct move for the UK Welshies, and they knew it. That’s why the band buckled down and got straight to work on a more substantial record that would bookend and define the band’s 80’s-minded metal sound.
Yes, Venom is rife with shredding & touching guitars in the most inappropriate ways possible by guitarists Michael Padgett and Matt Tuck, but it also contains some of the band’s best songwriting since their days of old. There is much progression and maturity to be heard within this album, but simultaneously a deep layer of nostalgia for any fan of the band or the metalcore sub-genre in general. Venom‘s greatest strength is that it marries the desperation and memorable song structures of “The Poison”, the thrashy aggression of “Scream, Aim, Fire” and the arena-minded presentation of “Fever”.
BFMV have defined their sound and themselves within tracks such as “You Want A Battle (Here’s A War)” (a soaring rock anthem), “Skin” (a stomping guitar-oriented cut with a memorable intro solo & gallops), and “Venom” (The type of emotional ballad that got the band known), each showcasing a different area of the band’s expertise. No track on the album is quite as definitive as “Broken” though, with it’s extremely commanding screams of “I will be heard!”, interesting rhythm change-ups from drummer Moose, huge BFMV chorus with multiple layers of harmony that has become a genre standard & a positively amazing solo from Michael Padgett. Ear-worming choruses from frontman Matt Tuck abound, made even stronger by experimentation with ethereal, building ambience in the guitar leads in songs such as the blazing “No Way Out” and epic “Playing God” that add another layer to an already well-established and harmonized sonic atmosphere.
Most impressive is Tuck’s dynamic vocal delivery, going from impassioned shouts to high croons and back again in “The Harder The Heart (The Harder It Breaks)” and demonstrating a surprising low singing range in “Worthless”. Through every song on the album Tuck shows something he didn’t show before, making him one hell of a vocal Swiss Army knife. Bullet have honed in on a sound and it’s the very sound that got them known in the first place. Repeating past successes this is not however, despite some aspects of nostalgia and purposely youthful lyricism feeling a bit forced. You’ll realize as soon as the authoritative “Raising Hell” fades out and provides the album the band’s most excellent closing track to date though, that Bullet For My Valentine are one of the current generation’s legacy bands that Metallica and Judas Priest tip their long-worn hats to and modern artists claim influence from. Don’t call it a comeback – somehow BFMV are just as relevant today as they were in 2004, thanks to one of their most memorable albums ever. Light on the ballads and filler, this is the BFMV fans have wanted to hear.