Venom – Bullet For My Valentine

Release Year: 2015

Rating: 8/10

Ever since their fourth LP Temper Temper was met with tepid reviews, the group promised their next effort would be the hard, fast, brutal band fans love. They even rushed out a new song to prove they weren’t lying. It seems they kept their word for their fifth album, which should please long time fans of the band. They don’t stray away from their well established sound, which is both good and bad keeping this album from being the best they have to offer.

Bullet seem to have taken the reaction to their last album personally. Every song here sounds like there’s a new fire lit under them, something that was noticeably missing last time. To prepare fans for the intense ride the record opens with the brief “V,” which sounds like the band tuning and building up to something major. It’s not much, but it creates this unnerving anticipation. Bullet previously released the excellent “No Way Out” and it’s still one of the strongest tracks here. It’s a fucking beast of a song as they go all out with aggression, kick ass riffs, and screaming vocals fans have become used to over ten years. As always there’s the great blend of melody and brutality both in terms of the music and the vocals. The way Matt Tuck screams “No way out!” at the beginning of the song gets your heart racing and braces you for what’s about to come.

Army of Noise” is another great song dedicated to the legion of the group’s fans. Talking about the thrill of being on stage and watching the beautiful madness unfolding before their eyes, the song is all about letting go to the music. As the dirty guitars slay through the track, you picture the crowd opening up for motley circle pits and loving every minute of it. Tuck exclaims “Here’s to chaos tonight” as the song amps up and gets fiercer with every minute. Of course things gets hectic during the intense solo with their standard twin guitars that fans are used to, but can’t get enough of. Things slow down with “Worthless,” but the band never loses their heaviness. Though the song is a bit on the mellow side of, they still go as hard as they can while proclaiming “You can keep all your apologies/those words are worthless to me.” You can feel how fed up Tuck is when he starts singing that biting hook. What’s even better everything keeps getting more and more intense as the song goes on making sure there isn’t a moment where you want to hit skip.

Some critics have noted how the album doesn’t go beyond their standard “metalcore” sound and they’re right. The band doesn’t really try anything new on the LP, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Though it does mean some of the songs are forgettable or not very strong, such as “You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War).” Matt Tuck lets out an epic scream at the beginning of the track, but that’s about the best thing. Otherwise, the song itself is just okay. It’s not terrible, but the idea has been done before (and better) and having a whole chorus of people singing it like a battle cry gives it a hint of cheesiness. Didn’t we see this with glam metal? It’s as if they tried too hard to make this an anthem. “Broken” is another track with an overdone concept that warrants a decent sounding song. As always the guitar riffs kick ass, but otherwise there isn’t much more to say about it.

What the album is good at is giving fans what they want: songs that are loud, full of aggression, and heavy as fuck. “Pariah,” one of the stand out tracks, opens with slaying guitars that get your heart racing and body ready to mosh. It’s really energetic, upbeat, and full of fury. “Skin” is downright vicious with blazing guitars and catchy jumping rhythm. With “Venom” Bullet finally has a non corny slow number, though it may make you think of “Tears Don’t Fall” from the opening. Everything about it is really subdued, but since it seems to be about a poisonous relationship, there’s still a lot of edginess and fire. Just hear the way Tuck spits out “I hate you” while he reflects on his feelings.

Fans begged and screamed for classic BFMV and the band delivered. It’s definitely a step above their last LP, which found them kind of tame and depending on lame wrestlers for songs (talking to you Chris Jericho). The album is full of heavy tracks that will get you head banging until your neck is sore. Just about every song is intense, brutal, and in your face all equipped with killer riffs the band has become known for. They may have played it safe by not going beyond their comfort zone, but at least what they delivered are great songs that deserve to be played so loud it wakes your neighbors. What’s weird is the band seem to have this pattern where every other album is not so great followed by a good one (think Scream, Aim, Fire followed by Fever). It doesn’t compare with their finest work like The Poison, but at least it’s another strong entry in their catalog.

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