Review Summary: A decent album, this band gets a lot of hate, but they could have done much worse.
Bullet for my Valentine frequently gets *** on by the metal community to the point that people argue whether or not these guys actually play metal. It’s understandable, seeing as the band first started out as “Jeff Killed John” playing Nirvana covers, as well as Nu metal music from the likes of Korn and Limp Bizkit. However, as Bullet for my Valentine, the band has managed to create some pretty good (if not extremely flawed) original music.
The first major flaw of this band comes in the form of the lyrics, and I believe this is where most people tend to think this band is not metal. The lyrics deal with the same bland bull*** rubbish prevalent in all metalcore bands these days, but this is one of only a few downsides to listening to this band. “The Poison” starts with a clichéd quiet intro, but the band managed to get Apocalyptica to play the violins on the song, as well as adding a sweet guitar lick of their own, and I have to say it’s pretty well done. The album segues from calm, eerie music into fast and heavy with “Her Voice Resides.” It’s apparent the band put most of their focus on the guitars, assaulting us with fast and catchy riffs. The drumming is competent and well done, too.
After the first few songs, it’s apparent these guys have set their focus on guitar riffs from the likes of Iron Maiden and Metallica, than breakdowns. There are a few breakdowns throughout this album, but they are short and bearable. The guitar work for this album is pretty technical, for metalcore standards, offering a range of riffs heavy or melodic. There’s a lot of tapping and pinch harmonics on this album, so if you’re a fan of those, you’re in luck.
I’m not sure about live, but Matt Tuck handles both the screaming and clean vocals on this album, and his harsh vocals are aggressive, yet comprehensible. There’s no low, guttural death growls here, nor any high pitched shrieks, and I’m thankful for that. From other reviews I’ve read, most people complain that his clean vocals are too whiny, but I don’t have a problem with them. I’ve definitely heard worse clean vocals, like from The Devil Wears Prada or Attack Attack! An interesting note, there seems to be a complete balance between screamed and clean vocals. Neither clean nor harsh vocals dominate any of the songs.
This band reminds me of Trivium, another “more metal that core” band that focuses more on guitar work than breakdowns and scenes, and also like Trivium, this band is mostly shunned by metal heads, and it’s too bad because this album is definitely worth a listen. “Tears Don’t Fall” is a slow, somber song, but speeds up toward the middle, while “All These Things I Hate” starts off with an acoustic intro, segueing into heavy guitars and more screaming. The acoustic parts are pretty good, but it’s an overall average song. “Room 409” is okay too, nothing spectacular, but nothing terrible, either.
My copy of this album has “Hand of Blood”, and this song is one of the highlights of the album. Harmonized guitar riffs, fast-paced drumming, screamed and clean vocals, inaudible bass, what’s not to like about this song? After “Hand of Blood” we get “The Poison” which is another okay song, nothing spectacular. “Ten Years Today” at first seems lame, with the introspective and personal lyrics, but it has some cool guitar tapping, as well as more harmonized riffs toward the end of the song. “Cries in Vain” has some more good guitar riffs. However, the last song, appropriately named “The End”, is probably the worst song on the album. A slower song, it doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment, and at over six minutes, the song just drags.
Overall, the album is pretty well done. Some, if not most, people think this is another bland metalcore borefest, but it really isn’t. Sure their formula for songs is simple: scream vocal / clean vocal, solo, outro, but it works. Bullet for my Valentine haven’t done anything new with this endeavor, but in this day and age, it’s hard to musically create something that’s genuinely innovative. Plus, for a metalcore band, this album is definitely listenable. The lyrics suck ass, yes, but if you can get past them, you’ll find a worthwhile album.