SEPT 28th 2015
BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE: VENOM

Review by Lana Muirhead

In 2003 when Jeff Killed John re-baptized themselves as Bullet For My Valentine, the music was hard hitting, ear splitting, and all around great heavy metal.  The first studio album they released back in 2005 entitled “The Poison” was well received and beautifully followed up with “Scream Aim Fire” in 2008.  Their third studio effort, “Fever” was a slow descent into what would be their widely criticized fourth album “Temper Temper”.  Although these last two albums produced some decent singles, including “Your Betrayal”, title track “Fever”, “Breaking Point” and “Riot” (respectively) BFMV seemed to be edging their way into that Metallica-esque ‘pop metal’ niche where a wider audience could appreciate the music without listeners having to be metalheads.

Fortunately for us metalheads/rockers, their latest studio works, “Venom”, is a great transition back to their roots. The band has grown exponentially both personally and in popularity, all three members (more to come on this…) were able to reach back to the angsty times of their early 20s to draw out the grimy, grungy, speaker-splitting tunes that drew us in at the turn of the millennium.

At first listen, the 11 songs on the regular “Venom” album release scream out heartbreak and loss.  This writer figured at least one of the band members had their heart put through a wood chipper to tongue such dark, sad lyrics.   In reality, Matthew ‘Matt’ Tuck (guitar/vocals), Michael ‘Padge’ Paget (guitar), and Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas (drums) broke up with their longtime friend and bassist Jason ‘Jay’ James.  Although the split was several months in the making, the final tracking of “Venom” was done without a bass player.  Instead, Tuck filled the gap with his own bass skills so what is heard on the record is the effort of three.  Do not read into this too deeply though: I have no bloody idea if the parting of ways here influenced any lyrics.

For touring purposes and to fill the void, BFMV was excited to announce that Jamie Mathias, formerly of metal band Revoker, would step in and has seamlessly integrated with the trio.  Mathias has been present for the 2015 North American tour on which the band proudly supports Slipknot. Back to the topic at hand: the fifth studio production for BFMV enitled “Venom”. Overall it is a great collection of songs that all fit well together and cruise the same poisonous vein.  Most notable for this listener was the lack of a real epic tune, something lengthy with thick boisterous instrumentals that have even the tamest tearing up their air guitars and drums.  All of the songs clock in right around the 4-minute mark, and follow a very necessary formula.

The first single off the album “You Want A Battle (Here’s A War)” is exactly what a fan would have expected of mid-2000s Bullet. There’s screaming, there’s intricate guitar riffs and signature drumbeats, there’s energy, and there’s lots of space to headbang the shit out of yourself.  This is aptly joined by such close cousins as “No Way Out” and “Army of Noise” and pointedly flips the bird with the closer song “Pariah”.  Personally I was a big fan of and surprised by the track “Army of Noise”.

There are a few that slow down a little to let you catch your breath such as “Worthless” and the title track “Venom”, then shoot you right back to Mach 3 with “The Harder the Heart (The Harder It Breaks)” which channels the classic Bullet sound reminiscent of  “Tears Don’t Fall” from the debut album in 2005. Regardless of your speed, it’s hard not to feel satisfied by the end of this collection. I was on the verge of lighting up a fag and taking a moment to get my shit together. Nothing will ever hit you quite like the first album you fall in love with from a band, but BFMV does well to hit hard, hit right, and bring out your ‘O’ face with this latest effort.

Does this have more to do with some professional adjustments, including not only the lineup change but also the decision to work with Producer Colin Richardson (who also produced their first two albums) as opposed to big wig Terry Date who was originally in talks for the gig?  Maybe.  Does it have to do with the band members being in good places personally at this time so they had to work harder to remember a time so long ago where there was no money for food, strings and skins?  Getting warmer. Or is it just that Bullet For My Valentine know good sound, write good lyrics, and have passion for the biz coming out their arseholes?  Most likely.

However it happened and whatever the process, it works, it rocks, and a copy of it needs to be in your music catalogue.