The 2006 debut from the Welsh metal band Bullet for My Valentine is filled with blazing guitar solos and aggressive vocals. It would be easy to write off this band or to pigeonhole them as metal, speed metal, emo etc, but on their debut they prove not only do they know how to rock out, they are actually talented musicians who can do more than scream over loud guitars.
The album opens with the pretty, somber instrumental called “Intro” that successfully mixes classical violins and electric guitars. The track is great on its own with the classical music, but when the guitars are thrown into the mix they add such a powerful effect. They don’t ruin the track or overshadow the classical bits. When compared to the rest of the album it seems like an odd fit because the rest of the songs are aggressive. But it’s an interesting track nonetheless.
The next track “Her Voice Resides” starts abruptly after the intro with yelling and screaming from the band. This may not be the best track on the album, but it’s still good and it represents what BFMV does best: guitar solos. The guitar work here is great. It’s energetic and aggressive, which perfectly matches the mood of the song. The solo is a blur of speeding notes running up and down the neck of the guitar and really makes you listen in awe. This song probably represents the album better than the opening track.
One thing that’s hard to miss about the album is how every song has a great guitar riff. They may not be something you can describe in words, but when you hear them they get you moving and make you go “whoa.” What makes the guitar work unique is it definitely has the metal feel to it, but there are other elements that come into play. For example, on the track “The Poison,” the opening riff has a slight twang to it, which makes you think of country music (as much as you don’t want to). Another track “All these Things I Hate” has an acoustic intro that is soothing and mellow before it launches into distorted madness. And some of the solos mix metal with classic rock. These different elements not only keep the guitar work fresh, but it also shows that the band is not all about playing loud and fast.
Another reason why the band and the album is so great are the vocals. Metal records can be frustrating because while the music can be awesome and really good, the vocals can be sub-par especially if it’s only guttural vocals that make you sound like Cookie Monster. Here there’s a switch off between these vocals. There is actual singing on the songs, but there is also aggressive yelling and screaming as well. There is not one song on the album where one type of singing takes over the entire track, which is what makes the band so different. BFMV knows when the more aggressive vocals will be more effective in a song. When they do use these vocals it makes you take notice and may catch you off guard.
While all the songs on the album are great there are two tracks that standout from the rest. The first one is “10 Years Today.” What makes this track so different is there’s a lot of emotion showing through here. It’s about someone the band knew who has passed away and how they have dealt with the death. Another interesting thing about this song is while the subject of the song is very sad and serious, the music is fast and doesn’t sound dark. It’s as if they want to celebrate this person’s life through the music itself.
The other great track is the closing one “The End.” This is the slowest song on the album and it starts with a pretty, mellow riff that harkens back to the opening track. Again, this is another song about loss and not being able to cope with it. The singing and the music is mostly slow until it unexpectedly speeds up and grows more aggressive as the song goes on. This is what keeps this six minute track interesting. The tempo in this song changes about three times in total, but it still manages to be cohesive, rather than sounding like three different songs glued together. Both of these songs are the best on the album because it shows how the band can step away from being the typical metal band.
Overall, I give this album 9/10. It’s a really strong debut where every song is great. There isn’t a dull moment on this record and while a lot of the guitar playing is harsh and in your face, there are other songs that show what else the band can do. Both the guitar playing and the singing are excellent and will stick with you when the song is over. This is a great band that deserves more attention and credit in the States.