Wales has provided some of the brightest bands of our scene in recent times. From Funeral for a Friend in the early noughties through to Holding Absence in the current year, Wales has been a hot bed for alternative music . Bullet For My Valentine have endured through multiple different eras – heralded as one of the new leaders of metal with their contemporaries Killswitch Engage, Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold in the mid 2000s, they’re still growing as a band, and now they’re back with their seventh record.
Throughout their history, BFMV have had ebbs and flows with records. Some of the records regarded as a great return to form, with others leaving listeners confused as to why they decided on that direction. When BFMV decide they want to be metal again, the results are always good and ‘Parasite’ is a mission statement for the next era of the band. Opening with glitchy samples of their previous material, ‘Parasite’ hits the accelerator as hard as possible, with pulsating drum hits and an instantly recognisable riff through the middle, with vocalist Matt Tuck sounding almost guttural. This is the heaviest that BFMV have been in a long time.
Lead single ‘Knives’ goes down as a new staple for the setlist, with an intro reminiscent of ‘Your Betrayal’ from ‘Fever’ including buzzsaw guitars that fly through the speakers and a chorus written for arenas lays waste – It’s clear BFMV mean business this time around. ‘My Reverie’ feels like ‘Hearts Burst Into Fire’ for a new, heavier generation.
Matt Tuck has always been able to switch between his screams to melodic singing very well, and this record an example of the vocal talent the man possesses. A special mention should go to newest member of the band Jason Bowld, who makes his studio debut as the band’s drummer here.
BFMV have always written “fucked up love songs” as quoted by Matt Tuck multiple times, but ‘No Happy Ever After’ finds him spitting lyrics with such venom before the double bass kick drums pound through the chorus, but the highlight is undeniably the guitar solo half way through, taking the song to another level. When a band decides to self-title a record, it is usually an indication that this record is the definitive version of their sound and in this case, ‘Bullet For My Valentine’ takes everything from the band’s discography, removing the parts that didn’t work and blending the rest into this record. After so many false dawns, Bullet For My Valentine finally sound like they know who they are and what they want to play.
‘Can’t Escape The Waves’ shows the bands melodic side before the arena crushing ‘Bastards’ takes over. The latter was clearly written to be a song played live, and finds Tuck in an almost playful mood, utilising a vaudevillian melodic tone in the first half of the track – the gang vocals of “HATE” instead of “HEY” will go down a treat at live shows – while the second half of the track sees Tuck try his best industrial vocals, with bass and distortion. Latest single ‘Rainbow Veins’ feels like a slight misstep, with it being the most similar to previous record ‘Gravity’, ultimately making it one of the weaker tracks on the record so far.
Thankfully, ‘Shatter’ does just what it says on the tin, letting BFMV prove themselves as that big metal behemoth they have threatened to be. All stomp and no apologies, and an album best vocal performance from Tuck, this track is genuinely among the finest songs this band has ever written. With big harmonies towards the breakdown, this will get crowds moving and would be perfectly positioned as the set closer before an encore. Here, lead guitarist Michael ‘Padge’ Paget shows himself to be one of the most underrated guitarists in the UK today, his expert level of playing and timing on this song proving that he should be spoken about more.
‘Paralysed’ will leave the listeners just that with amazement. Tuck delivers lines with rapid fire precision and a riff that sounds like an early day Slipknot idea, giving this song pace and making it one of the most immediate songs on the album. Closing with ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’, the band end their most important record to date in style.
Bullet For My Valentine are one of the most important metal bands the UK has produced in its history. They’re a band who hit the road hard and consistently release records, and while not all of them have been the smash hits they hoped for – some being been met with muted or negative responses – they are a band who have endured. They’ve hit the heights of Wembley Arena and Slam Dunk headliners in the past, as well as the aforementioned Download Pilot closing headliner spot, and with this self-titled record, they’re well equipped to hit those heights again. The songs on this record form the most cohesive collection of songs since ‘Fever’ was released. With a years worth of touring to come, a Download Festival 2023 headliner could be in BFMV’s future.