My teen years occured during the noughties, coinciding with that high watermark of Metalcore and Post-Hardcore.
Bullet For My Valentine‘s early material was a fundamental part of that era for me. Their self-titled EP taking the melodic aspect of the Welsh Post-Hardcore sound (ie; Funeral For A Friend, The Blackout et al) and pairing it with more aggressive guitar tones you’d expect from a full-blooded Metalcore project. The result was heavy, yet accessible. At home both with the 90s Metal bands and the lighter Alt Rock fare – which clearly delighted the Kerrang of that era, who’d just found themselves a new golden goose.
Since ‘Scream Aim Fire’, however, my interest has slid a little. They just seemed to have staled somewhat, never quite managing to recapture that youthful buzz and the raw catchiness of their early work, no matter how much they tried to eke the winning formula out of similar-sounding riff patterns or vocal lines. 2015’s ‘Venom’ shot off in a different direction, heavier than previous releases and bringing in some more ‘Metal’ guitar tones that were a bit too garish and ‘Metallica’ for me. Matt Tuck cut his hair short, looking vaguely like a young James Hetfield.
2018 brings us ‘Gravity’. Hopefully, this signifies a toucing back down to earth and the catchy (yet well constructed) roots we know and love. It immediately becomes clear, however, that what we have is one of the new contemporary-heavy hybrid albums. Riffing counterpointed by electronics during the quieter sections, with gang vocals to broaden the depth of field a little. And that’s just opener ‘Leap Of Faith’.
What I will say is that there are some massive choruses on this release, and it certainly checks the sing-a-long-ability box. I find myself humming ‘Letting You Go’ while making ramen. The flipside of this sound, however, is the inescapable parallels to Bring Me The Horizon’s trajectory in recent years. Production-wise, there are stark similarities, plus in places the song-writing and vocals lend to this too. There are a few, but the most prominent example is perhaps ‘Under Again’, which literally parallels Oli Sykes’s vocal lines from 2015 track ‘Doomed’. That does knock me for six a bit, to tell you the truth – they’re both leading vocalists in British Alternative music, each with their strengths and weaknesses. So, surely it should be each to their own rather than each have a crack at exactly the same thing?
Once you get over that, ‘Gravity’ is really not such a badly constructed little album. Working again with producer Carl Bown (Trivium/While She Sleeps/Fightstar/Busted etc), there’s enough variation over a 41 minute run-time to make this one a pleasure for me to listen several times over to get a firm enough grasp to tell you that this one’s worth checking out. Similarities or no, there’s enough of a Bullet flavour to keep the fans engaged, while maybe this one’s accessible enough and crafted with enough modern sensibilities to engage a fresh, young fan-base. We’ll see.
‘Gravity’ is out now through Spinefarm Records.