Review Summary: iTunes radio has failed in the heavy metal department.
We are now in October so I think it's late enough in the year to go ahead with the statement that Bullet For My Valentine might have managed to release the most cliché metal album of the year. It's either this or 5FDP's dual-album Rob Halford disaster. Content aside, the album title and cover art immediately reveal what the album has in store, and in this case you can judge the album by its cover. Much like their previous release, there is an abundance of songs themed with anger, violence, or sex and violence. The guitars have nothing new to offer from what they have already done. However, the simplistic approach is welcome as far as I am concerned. The drums aren't necessarily a detriment to the album, but the issue is that Michael Thomas has added nothing to his repertoire of beat or fills. The combination of familiar content and unimaginative songwriting yields an album that leaves far too much to be desired.
It would be easy to label this a filler album as far as lyrics are concerned but it seems that singer/guitarist Matt Tuck genuinely has a passion for this VERY narrow range of topics. The issue isn't that those kinds of songs are simply unacceptable, because there is no denying that sex and violence has and always will be present in hard rock and heavy metal music -- but when it comes down to nearly every song becoming indistinguishable by lyrical content, the situation requires a complaint. Personally I never focus on singing or lyrics unless they become impossible to ignore, and in this case they are, for all the wrong reasons. With the songs standing alone this wouldn't matter much, but we are compiling an album worth of songs, and arguably his entire library of lyrics for BFMV.
So, you can get over boring lyrics. Good news is that Tuck can deliver on the sound of his vocals. People have said that he sings nasally but I honestly think that is the result of his Welsh accent, and there are no personal complaints in that department. It's also nice to find a bit of variety in the vocals, from screaming to singing, and parts with plain talking do fit over the musical style they are presenting. The harmonies lack variety in general, as with the guitars, but they aren't exactly bad. There is one part in the middle of "Truth Hurts" that really stood out to me as a bold (and effective) section to put in. The only glaring issue is that the music has no room to breathe, and neither does he. The singing is constant, often layered, and it prevents the listener from having any time to appreciate the instruments. For me, this is the unforgivable sin, but I recognize that everyone is different.
Before I light into a string of pessimistic statements about this albums guitar parts, it is nice to see that there is a lot of bass presence, and that is something that should be appreciated. Not that Jason James is an amazing bass player, because he isn't, but it is always frustrating for me that most metal bands seem to ignore the bass entirely. As mentioned in the last point, the guitars find themselves harmonizing using similar patterns throughout. This only adds to the list of repetitive aspects in this album. This has always been surprising, as lead guitarist Michael Paget has always seemed very adept in his formal understanding of music. Another thing that really takes away from these songs is that there is no focus on really effective chord structures. There is nothing negative to say about playing technical riffs, but like everything else it can be overused, and overuse is an issue that seems to be universal for this band. To avoid someone telling me the obvious fact that they do have heavily "rhythmic" sections, the point being brought up is that for the most part those sections are familiar and predictable, rather than thought-provoking and helpful to making the songs stand-out. The chorus of title track "Temper Temper" actually made the song for me, and I would like to recognize it as a high point.
The last completely frustrating part of this album is Michael Thomas' drum parts. It should have been made clear by now that technical skill isn't the issue with the music. People should be cautious when they say that a band isn't being creative, but it's being said this time. The drumming here is effective, but all too often it finds itself in a rut with the same rhythms and fills we have been hearing for the past two albums. The guitar riffs are partially to blame for the repetition, but at the heart, the drums only make these similarities more obvious. As if things weren't bad enough, this makes the monotony even worse than is has to be, not that I had expected any different from the fourth member of this band.
In short, I would like to argue that Bullet For My Valentine has camped out in the same vein for three straight albums, and it's just not doing the job. Nobody is asking them to make some drastic changes, but some variety would be nice. Ideas cannot be constantly recycled from one album to the next. The most successful bands evolve and explore new territory to an extent, but Bullet refuses to abandon its (not so) secret formula. After listening to the album in full to jog my memory for this review, it is just painful and exhausting. With that in mind, this is likely their weakest release to date.
Favorite Moment: Chorus of "Temper Temper"
Worst Moment: Realizing that "Dead to the World" is one step from simply renaming "Say Goodnight"