Review Summary: In changing up their sound, Bullet have finally created an album that is more than listenable and frequently excels what many thought they were capable of.
Bullet For My Valentine has long since lost any credibility they had in the metal world. With a well received debut album like The Poison, one of two things could happen. Either, they could abandon their metalcore roots and shift into a more commercial sound, or they could get more aggressive. They could not remain the same for their entire career, however. In the case of Bullet, they went both ways, first shifting into the heavier more thrash-ridden metalcore sound of Scream Aim Fire, and then they moved towards a more commercial trail with their third studio album Fever. This was an album that divided their fan base, with many preferring the screaming infested chug-fest of The Poison and others liked the new sound, boasting much more diversity and a heavier emphasis on the clean vocals. This album is the sound of a band attempting to be a lot more creative, and for the most part it works, leading to their most solid release to date.
The most improved feature of this album is the guitar work, with songs such as the emotionally charged A Place Where You Belong and the thrashy The Last Fight standing out the most. The riffs are nothing ground breaking, being low-end chugging at various tempos for the most part, but there are a few standout moments that help to set this apart from much of the commercial metal bands out there. For starters, the guitar work to album opener Your Betrayal is decent enough, having an almost Walk With Me In Hell-influenced sounding style of playing during the intro, with some melodic guitar work to build up towards the verse. A Place Where You Belong has some beautifully written melodies and a number of short solos that serve their purpose perfectly. The lead intro to Alone features some nice tapping that serves as a great way to introduce said song, and the solos throughout this album are generally of a high standard rare in the commercial metal scene.
However, at times the album gets a little too chug infested and disjointed in the guitar department for its own good, with the title track in particular being the most boring of these. This has a very flat first riff and occasionally includes some of the most redundant use of pinch harmonics since Bring Me The Horizon's Pray For Plagues. Pleasure And Pain, despite boasting a thundering pace and fun sound to it, also falls victim to this crippling factor, with one of the most dull and predictable sets of riffs to it. The breakdown in the title track felt a little unnecessary, but this is something that has mostly been disposed of for this album, instead focusing on being direct and to the point. The guitar work for this album is, however, enjoyable enough to listen to with a lot of diversity to it and some memorable enough moments. The other instruments on this album are well played enough, with the drums being speedy and keeping a solid backdrop in place for the songs to build off. The Last Fight has the most bragging rights for any Bullet For My Valentine song instrumentally, having some of the best drumming the band has ever written, a cool enough riff set and some alright, although awkwardly mixed bass work. The solo is well placed on this song, and is great to listen to having a large amount of melody to it and not outstaying its welcome with the listener.
The vocal work on this release is a very mixed bag, with the clean vocals being noticeably better than what was found on the past records, but still having an annoying whining sound to them and being as emotionless as it gets. The screaming is far less present on here but for once actually sounds really well done, with The Last Fight in particular containing one fantastic scream towards the end of the song. The chorus of Your Betrayal is one of the finest vocal moments this band has ever done, being equal parts powerful and catchy, but it is tolerable enough for the most part. At times, however, it is questionable as to whether Matthew Tuck puts his soul into the vocal work, with A Place Where You Belong holding the biggest question mark. Despite the dark lyrics to this song, Tuck sounds as passionless as it gets, at times even sounding happy even though the song speaks of a partner who has committed suicide. When the screaming comes in towards the end, the vocals start to have more conviction behind them, even keeping the clean vocals sounding intense enough, but the singing on here just sounds like a five minute waste of breath. Also worth pointing out is how utterly absurd and poorly written the lyrics on here, which has long since been the bane of the band, but is even more terrible on here. The pathetic attempt at sounding angry on Alone is testament to how poor a lyricist Matthew Tuck really is, with lines such as "I hope your unhappy and hurting inside" being delivered in the same flat, monotonous voice one can expect from Bullet For My Valentine. A Place Where You Belong is one example of a completely unnecessary attention grab, with the lyrics on the subject of suicide clearly being an attempt to reach out to the teenage scene kid population who are known to eat up this sort of lyrics, and yet they are not symbolic of anything Tuck has ever been through. Pleasure And Pain, Your Betrayal and Bittersweet Memories are passable enough on the lyrical frontier but, other than that, the band has failed to produce anything substantially well written or even average, instead being some of the poorest lyrics known to man.
The songs themselves showcase exactly what the band does best, however, containing a lot of melody, but still having the occasional heavy moment to mix things up a bit. The album is varied enough, with The Last Fight bringing a crossover thrash influence in, Your Betrayal being the closest thing to their metalcore roots found on here, and the title track existing as the flag-bearer of their new style of music. The guitars thunder along marvelously, the drumming is intense, and the vocals are bearable, with each song having its own identity among the others, something that is completely fresh for a Bullet For My Valentine album. The title track may be the worst song on here but it is still more than listenable, having enough of a catchy sound and a melodic sound to it to make it a good enough song. Bullet For My Valentine have finally clarified what they all do best, and put these features together to make a solid enough album, but one that is certainly not without its flaws. The band is obviously not the most talented nor creative of bands, but they put on one hell of a show on Fever, making for one of the most electrifying commercial metal albums to have been put out in recent years.