Bullet for My Valentine - Venom (RCA)

An old cynic is nearly convinced...
Release Date: 
13 Aug 2015 - 11:30pm

Crivens. Although we live in different parts of the world, I was still trying to avoid the gaze of MaF editor Scott Adams when he was handing out the latest new releases and this, the new BFMV album started getting bandied about. It was all for nought though, so here I am, nervously fondling a record by a band I’ve had little or no time for in the past…

Still, past is past, eh? And somehow, over the past decade, Bullet for My Valentine find themselves serving the sort of ‘entry-level’ metal band status Iron Maiden once enjoyed twenty odd years ago, and we all know what happened to them, right? Longevity counts for a lot in this business, especially in today’s ever contracting business model, so these Welsh boys surely deserve a fair and balanced hearing, irrespective of whatever nasty epithets ‘serious’ metal fans might carelessly throw their way. And do you know what? After several listens I’ve got to say that Venom sees the band creating a masterful modern metal album.

Once intro V is out of the way we’re off and running with No Way Out, which is bland quasi metalcore that resolutely fails to float my boat. Army of Noise, however, despite it’s rather hackneyed ‘hymn to our fans’ lyrics, is a different matter entirely. Ripping thrash metal of the highest order, I don’t mind saying just how pleasantly surprised by this. Everything clicks, even the usually tepid vocals of Matt Tuck, and when Michael Padget unleashes that unhinged solo midway through the track, well… I defy you not to be sucked into the maelstrom.

Worthless is slightly more than it’s title would suggest, though nothing special, whilst You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War) is the sort of chest-beating-whilst-simultaneously-effete anthem the Black Veil Brides have cornered the market in in recent years. Not my cup of tea, but if you’re under thirty you’ll lap it up, doubtless.

The next real highlight is Broken, another spritely thrasher with Padget’s fast digits front and centre again. The man has quietly become a frighteningly fine axeman, and it’s no coincidence that the best songs here all happen to be those ones on which Padge shines brightest.

Venom is the by-now-obligatory power ballad but I ain't buying it; the problem being it’s neither powerful or balladic enough and Tuck’s vocals are just not emotive enough to carry this sort of thing. He’s not a belting singer at the best of times, so why put him through the agony of singing tracks like this?

Far better to concentrate on stuff like The Harder the Heart (The Harder it Breaks), which finds the band in its metalcore-informed element and sounds all the better for it, melding a thumping bottom end with some fine Maidenesque guitar action for maximum results. This is really where the band operates at its best, and songs like this enable you to forget the missteps taken elsewhere, as does the epic-sounding Hell or High Water, where the band channels Hallowed be Thy Name in fine style.

I could go on, but what’s the point? Whatever I say means nowt when you know that the young people are already buying Venom in their hundreds of thousands; Suffice to say that, to these old ears at least, Bullet for My Valentine have at last arrived – and if they continue to eliminate a lot of the fluff that still accompanies their albums at the current rate (this album is easily their most accomplished and, dare I say it, straightforwardly metallic), we could be in for something very special indeed from the band a little way down the line. Encouraging stuff.