BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE
Spinefarm Records UK
Released: June 29, 2018
After 2 decades of rocking the world, Welsh metal band Bullet for my Valentine hardly needs any presentation. Fronted by Matt Tuck, they made a solid name from themselves on the metalcore scene with the phenomenal “The Poison” (2005) and the subsequent “Scream Aim Fire” (2008). The polarizing “Fever” (2010) and “Temper Temper” (2013) saw them trying their hand at alternative metal, and heavy metal respectively, while the highly acclaimed “Venom” (2015) was seen as a return to their metalcore roots. And now, after some line-up changes, BFMV is back with their sixth album, “Gravity”, released on June 29, via Spinefarm Records.
I want to start by saying that “Venom” was one of my favorite releases of 2015 and I had hoped they would continue with, and develop that heaviness and rawness on “Gravity” as well. I had expected more interaction between Matt and Jamie, but as many people have observed, BFMV is moving on from their trademark metalcore sound into something that resembles alternative metal. But, lo and behold, I like it very much.
Leap of faith
Letting you go
Not dead yet
The very last time
Piece of me
Don’t need you [2018 version]
As frontman Matt Tuck stated:
“When we started writing for this album I was very adamant that the time was right to do something slightly different, time to push the boundaries a little bit and incorporate new sounds. I’m very proud of it; it’s a step in a slightly different direction but I think we’ve listened to it as songs and if you get your head into it, it’s a monster, it’s a very fresh-sounding record”.
Even though there are no guitar solos, and the harsh vocals are not as frequent as before, “Gravity” is a very angry, aggressive, and fierce album, because of its lyrical content. The songs are not that heavy, (except for the monster that is “Don’t need you”), but one can feel the aggressiveness pouring out of the lyrics and the vocal delivery, and “Leap of Faith”, “Piece of me”, “Letting you go” or “Under Again” make it perfectly clear. Lyric-wise “Gravity” deals with the heartbreaks of separation, and everybody who’s gone through a break-up can relate to many of the situations presented, as (metal) music can be cathartic both for the musician as well as for the listener. It’s not first time, nor will it be the last, when an artist says something along the lines of ‘I used this album to deal with my demons’, and I just love this aspect of metal.
There are also some new additions here, as melodic electronic notes that open up the album can be heard alongside the instrumental throughout the album, complementing the guitars and the vocals. True enough this is not metalcore / thrash BFMV, it is still undoubtedly BFMV, though a bit lighter and more accessible, and this shift in sound is something that not many bands can make work in their favor. Songs like “Gravity”, “The very last time”, “Not dead yet”, or “Coma”, to some extent, may not sound like classic BFMV to some, considering how stripped down they are, but I feel they work very well in the context of this album, simply because sometimes less is more. Sometimes you can transmit so much emotion though just clean vocals and a simple guitar line, and this is the foundation of the album, but not many get this. Case in point: “Breathe Underwater” – so simple, yet so powerful. Nonetheless, the songs pack a lot of punch, and whoever saw them live this year (I caught the livestream from Hellfest) knows what I am talking about, as the new songs work so well in a concert.
Love it or hate it, but “Gravity” is a soulful and deep album, released by a mature band, that have altered the true and tested formula, and came up with a new sound that is still very much their own. Personally, I would take this, over some soulless, though highly technical metal album, any day of the week.
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Matthew Tuck – lead vocals, rhythm/lead guitar
Michael Paget – lead guitar, backing vocals
Jamie Mathias – bass guitar, vocals
Jason Bowld – drums, percussion