Artist: Bullet for My Valentine
Label: RCA Records
I know I’ve been going on and on about how great the new releases in 2015 have been, but let’s face it – those have all been bands I’ve loved a lot. That’s like saying all of the meals I’ve paid for have been amazing when I’ve only been eating at my favorite restaurants. To tell the truth, I’ve actually been keeping up with a lot of new releases this year from all sorts of bands. I just don’t always have the time to write about everything I read, or sometimes I just don’t feel like I have enough to say.
I enjoyed The Agonist’s new album, Eye of Providence, though their style is a touch harsh for my personal taste. Pyramaze’s Disciples of the Sun was quite good, but again that heavy power metal isn’t something I listen to enough to want to write about it. It’s good for a casual listen but not one I’d throw on repeat, for example. I was actually surprised by how much I liked Symphony X’s new material, Underworld, because their style is often too over-the-top for me, but I doubt I’m engaged enough to write anything. Even Lamb of God’s new album appealed to me more than they have in the past, but that’s just a stepping stone towards writing a review.
Bullet for My Valentine is one of those bands that I listen to and enjoy the radio hits but can’t say I’ve ever listened to a full album. So in one of my new-music listening sessions, I threw Venom on and I have to say, I liked it enough that I wanted to share my experience with it, because apparently my luck has held out even with bands that aren’t even my all-time favorites.
Listen along here:
First of all, the intro track, “V” is one of those borderline unnecessary things. It’s so subtle and non-existent that I didn’t actually think it was a separate entity from the first track, “No Way Out.” Now this song, however, I really like. It’s one of those songs where I made the emotional connection before I’ve even paid attention to the lyrics, and then the connection was solidified when I read them later on. These songs are always fun to find, when you can tell by the music alone that this song can/will mean something to you.
“Army of Noise” is a pretty good track as well. It reminded me a bit of Soilwork. Specifically, there were parts of it that made me think of the song “Follow the Hollow,” which has always been one of my favorite Soilwork songs for the catchy rhythm in the chorus. This song isn’t a rip-off, but it has a reminiscent sound. I wonder if it was coincidence. “Worthless” is a lyrically powerful song backed up with just the right kind of musical and vocal power. It was the first moment when I started feeling like the album has a really dark theme of hurt and betrayal.
That hurt and betrayal, of course, crosses over really strongly into “You Want a Battle (Here’s a War).” This is the kind of song I want to listen to when I’m about to have a confrontation with someone and I need some adrenaline and confidence. It’s really powerful in its message, like Worthless, and will definitely be on some playlists in the near future.
You can check out the music video here:
“Broken” is one of those songs that I glossed over a bit. It sounds nice and doesn’t break the rhythm, but it also didn’t catch my attention immediately. “Venom,” however, is another very lyrically strong song. As an aside, I like how clearly the singer is singing in these emotional songs, because he’s getting the emotion across passionately and it’s nice to immediately get a sense of the song and its deeper meaning through the lyrics. This song continues touching on the aforementioned theme and does an excellent job of it.
Next up is “The Harder the Heart (the Harder it Breaks),” which I already like from the title. This is a bit heavier, which the album needed at this point, lest we think BfMV is going soft; it was a much-needed bit of metalcore in a softer album. “Skin” and “Hell or High Water” are similar to “Broken.” They stand out with their catchy choruses, but don’t top other songs. They continue to add to the feel and theme of the album though.
“Pariah” has been, thus far, the least noticeable song on the track list at this point. Again, it doesn’t break the flow, but doesn’t add anything that stands out too much. At this point we proceed into the deluxe edition tracks though, so if “Pariah” is ending the main album, it’s a bit of a weaker track to leave things off on. “Playing God” has some nasty lyrics that stand out a bit, such as: “Don’t turn the cheek /Don’t walk away /It’s time to decimate…”, making it a stronger followup to “Pariah.” I’m starting to wonder which band member has recently had his heart broken horribly to inspire this album.
“Run for Your Life” is another catchy track with a good chorus to sing along to. “In Loving Memory” is perhaps one of the most diverse songs on the album, and one that I really enjoyed, which is interesting because it’s a demo track that never made it to the general release. I think musically it stands out from the rest, but in a good, eye (or ear)-catching way. And finishing things off is “Raising Hell,” a track that first came out in 2013 to showcase the band’s new direction. Now this the kind of song I want to end an album on, because the chorus is catchy, sing-along-able, and with just enough heaviness to make you feel enthusiastic about BfMV’s new direction. I always say you should end an album or a gig on a high note, and this song certainly does that.
To my pleasant surprise, I’ve really enjoyed this album. It works as a complete unit, and while some of the songs certainly stand out more than others, that’s to be expected. There are the great tracks that you hope to hear live, like “No Way Out” and “You Want a Battle (Here’s a War),” but the other songs on the album don’t interfere with the flow or rhythm when listening straight through, even if they don’t stand out quite as well. As is pretty common, the album starts stronger than it finishes, but I think the deluxe edition tracks really add to the overall experience.
Rating: 8/10, 4 stars
2. No Way Out
3. Army of Noise
5. You Want a Battle (Here’s a War)
8. The Harder the Heart (the Harder it Breaks)
10. Hell or High Water
12. Playing God
13. Run for Your Life
14. In Loving Memory
15. Raising Hell