Review Summary: Great, good, bad and ugly all describe Scream, Aim, Fire as just about the only thing with consistent quality are the lyrics.
After a mere EP and debut full length, the U.K. boys in Bullet For My Valentine made quite the impact. Following a number of tours stretching over just about everywhere on Earth, they quickly became frontrunners in the metal (or depending on who you are talking to, mall) core scene. It wasn’t exactly a coincidence. Their debut record The Poison was promising enough and featured heavy yet melodic guitar riffs, flashy solos, and a blend of harshly screamed and emotionally sung vocals. Despite the fact that the majority of the lyrical content read like a heart-broken eighth grader’s after school poetry session, the record was a mainstream success and got plenty (including me) hooked. Prior to the follow up, the group told listeners to expect a heavier, faster, and more aggressive record. While Scream, Aim, Fire
often fulfills that promise, its quality is annoyingly inconsistent and the group still has some aspects which need improvement.
To start things off they waste little time. There is no acoustic intro or cheesy sampling, just hard hitting, fast, aggressive metalcore. Drums enter with a fill on the title track “Scream, Aim, Fire”
and take listeners on one of the faster rides Bullet has to offer. Rapid tempos, heavy riffing, it’s everything they promised. But you’ll notice the word good not being mentioned. The group abuses the low C string throughout the verse and breakdowns. The prechorus chant are incredibly lame on top of it all. As things persist the group delivers a catchy chorus, two breakdowns and a ripping solo in between. On paper it appears to be wonderful but it couldn’t be less true. While improvement in the lead guitar department is noticeable, the song ends lackluster and is brought down by its silly and faux tough guy pro-war lyrics. While “Eye of the Storm”
addresses a better topic (hardly), its composition is just as awful. Once again they deliver a fast track but the low riffs are just not convincing. The chorus is quite bland and minus the guitar solo, the track feels like the group is just going through the motions.
Thankfully the group tightens up and actually delivers their new style with pleasant results. “Waking The Demon”
hits hard from the get go, opening with a great old school sounding riff guaranteed to get fists pumping and heads banging. The dual screamed vocals make for some intensely pleasing verses. Toss in some timely and effective tempo changes along with a strong melodic chorus featuring tasteful vocal harmonies and an impressive track is the result. Some more wonderfully constructed riffing persists with “Disappear”
as the group seems to find their groove in making their faster sound successful. The track certainly features a Bullet at their best in combining screamed and clean vocals despite the fact that they lyrics they belt out are awful. The tired HEY chant bridge falls on its face but some well executed guitar harmonies throughout make it difficult to hit the skip button. “End of Days”
is another demonstration of Bullet’s heavier sound. Between its passionately delivered vocals and near perfect riff construction, it terrifically showcases Bullet’s roots being taken in a potentially different direction. Thanks to some more beautiful melody driven guitar leads, the track ends up being one of the stronger songs the record has to offer.
As irony would have it, after all of the talk from the group about their new aggressive and heavy sound, the record’s highlight would be a softer and dominantly laid back song. “Hearts Burst Into Fire”
opens with an acoustic intro and easily the best melodic lead work on the record. It immediately demands attention and its atmosphere really grabs a hold of listeners. While the lyrics are cliché in subject and far from poetry, they are delivered with such passion the end result is hard to argue with. It comes complete with an incredibly emotional chorus and features some Maiden-esque twin guitar lines. Despite the fact that a proper solo isn’t dished out, the overall construction of the track is impressive and never hits a low point. The group’s progression is shown at its fullest here as plain and simple this is a track they could not pull off previously in their career. Similar to their heavy style, this one features another problem: consistency. The last track on the record “Forever and Always”
tries ridiculously hard to be dramatic and emotional and sadly ends up a total disaster. Without exaggeration about a third of the song features the same guitar riff. Even with a stringed part atop of it things don’t go anywhere. The track drags on about two minutes two long and really ends the record on a weak note.
It’s always a difficult thing to follow up a successful debut record. On their sophomore effort Bullet For My Valentine shows improvement in certain departments including lead guitar, drums, and composition in general. Unfortunately, their consistency with the composition really drags the record down. It is rare to find three songs in a row which are enjoyable and this really drags the record down. This heavier and more aggressive sound they went for is not convincing nearly as much as it should be. Just about the only consistent aspect of the record is the shoddy lyrical writing. Many of the topics are with cliché or just plain silly and regardless of the topic, the content is average at absolute best. The group has plenty of talent which still isn’t being delivered and shown to its fullest potential. With some serious lyrical tune-ups and some more natural progression, this group could go an even higher level. As for now, if The Poison was enjoyable for you this won’t be a disgrace to your collection. If you are on the opposite end of the spectrum, hope the genre treats you better in 2008.
-Hearts Burst Into Fire
-End of Days
-Waking The Demon
Final Rating: 3/5