As you know from my least favorite albums list, this wasn’t always a record I liked. But I gave it a second listen to and I finally came around to it. Anyone who is a fan of the band’s first album will probably have the same experience. This is mainly due to the change in sound and vocals. The album isn’t as intense and heavy as before. The same goes for the vocals due to Matt Tuck having throat surgery, but once you get used to the changes you’ll find it’s an awesome record.
“Scream Aim Fire” opens the album and sounds like classic BFMV all the way. It has racing drumbeats and speeding guitar riffs that leave your jaw dropped. The vocals are also pretty standard for the band; you won’t notice the change in sound here. But the song itself is pretty bleak. It seems to be about war. There are several gruesome images and references to bodies on the battlefield, killing the enemy, and fighting for God. It’s a startling way to open the album, but it’s probably one of the best tracks here.
As always, the songs fucking rock. They’re filled with trilling guitars with kickass solos and intense drumming. In some songs you’ll even find the aggressive, growling vocals the band is known for. Some great tracks are “Eye of the Storm,” with its dizzying whirling guitar solo, “Hearts Burst into Fire,” which tricks you into thinking it’s a slow song with its melodic riff before it builds up and the looping solo comes in. “Waking the Demon” is another standout track that’s one of the only super intense songs here. It has an intense guitar riff that really drives the song and it’s an aggressive track overall. The growling vocals are even found here. What’s great is that you can really feel the anger and frustration in this energetic song. It’s even cool that during the bridge everything slows down and grows kind of sad and melodic.
While all the songs are awesome or at least decent there is one that is just bad: “Forever and Always.” You can already tell it’s bad from the lame, cliché title. The music isn’t that bad, but the lyrics are just awful. It’s basically filled with all the phrases and key words any boy in high school would write in a love note: “I wanna stay here forever and always.” What makes the song even worse is the length. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if the lyrics didn’t stop around the two minute mark and if the music would vary, rather than playing the same riff for six minutes. There’s even a clapping part that makes the song sound like a bad 80’s ballad. It’s as if the band was trying way too hard to be sincere and sensitive. They should leave that to the pop singers.
As mentioned before, Matt Tuck had throat surgery due to a problem with his tonsils and it seems to have affected the whole sound of the album. The vocals take a while to get used to, but they’re not that bad. The band actually manages to make the vocals fit in with the music, so it doesn’t sounds mismatched. But there are times when it sounds like Matt is trying too hard to sing. In the track “Take it Out on Me” there are parts when the singing sounds like something from a pop song, like he’s trying too hard to actually sound good. Since it doesn’t happen too much on the album it’s forgivable.
Due to Matt’s problem the music is slightly different here as well. The music is still great as always and the guitar playing is fucking awesome, but when comparing the music to their first album you notice that it’s not as heavy or intense. It’s as if the band decided to take it down a notch to make it easier on Matt to sing. But the band manages to make the music work with the vocals, so you don’t really notice the change that much, especially since the music is still energetic as before.
Overall, the album gets 8/10. Though the music is not as heavy as before and there’s a change in vocals, it’s a solid album. It’s full of great songs and awesome music. The songs may not be as intense, but they pack a punch. It’s easy to write off the album because of the change in sound, but once you get past the fact that all the lyrics aren’t shouted out, you get used to it. It’s not really my favorite BFMV record, but it’s an awesome album from the band.