Written by Alex Stojanovic
No Happy Ever After
Can't Escape The Waves
Death By A Thousand Cuts
Release Date: November 5, 2021
Label: Spinefarm Records
Matt Tuck - Lead vocals & guitars / Matthew "Padge" Paget - Lead guitars
Jamie Mathias - Bass & backing vocals / Jason Bowld - Drums
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I'm sure every metal fan, whether they went through the metalcore phase or not, was or is a fan of Bullet For My Valentine to some degree. I mean, "Tears Don't Fall" was one of the biggest metal anthems of the 2000s, and albums like The Poison, Scream Aim Fire and Fever are now modern metal classics. This band was a huge part of the soundtrack to my high school years when I was going through a heavy metalcore phase. I remember blasting The Poison and Scream Aim Fire relentlessly back in 2007-2010. Now, I'm not the same hardcore fan now as I was back then, but I still listen to the first three albums for nostalgic purposes, and I still keep up with what they're doing, and will always go see them live when I get the chance.
In 2018, they released what is undoubtedly their most polarizing album Gravity. I was certainly not a fan of the album, but simultaneously, I wasn't mad that they put that album out, because artists are constantly evolving both as musicians and as people, and I would much rather bands take chances and not hit the mark, than not take any chances at all. Let's backtrack just for a second. In 2016, they released the stand-alone single "Don't Need You", which ended up on Gravity, and that was the start of this new down-tuned guitar driven, djent type direction that they started going down, which as I said many times before, I personally am not really crazy about. With pretty lackluster songwriting and the lack of solos, Gravity can be referred to the band's St. Anger. The only difference is it has a great snare sound.
When the band started dropping hints about their seventh album and how it would mark the return of the heavier sound, fans got excited. Here we are now, with their self-titled seventh album, which they claimed is a new beginning for the band. It features the return of thrashy beats and riffs that were last heard on Venom, an even more aggressive vocal approach from Tuck, and on top of that....blast beats. At the same time, they haven't abandoned their melodic side, which is definitely a big element of their sound. The return of Padge's solos is definitely a huge triumph for the band, the fans and Padge himself.
Leading off the album is "Parasite"; the fastest Bullet track to date. Beginning with the Tuck ferociously screaming "You fucking parasite!", it leads into a raging riff accompanied by a blast beat, setting the table for what is sure to be a heavy feast with what's to come. Another great heavy track is "No Happy Ever After", and it's sure to please old school fans, as the intro riff is straight out of The Poison era, and the chorus sounds like it would be right at home on Venom. While we're on the subject of the old school era of Bullet, "Paralysed" brings things back to the Scream Aim Fire era (my favourite era). Being the thrasher that I am, the riff has a big Testament vibe, and that always brings a smile to my face.
As I mentioned earlier, the band have not forgotten about their melodic side. Songs like "Can't Escape The Waves" and "Rainbow Veins" feature solely clean vocals. The former contains one of the catchiest choruses, and these two songs in particular will work extremely well in an arena setting. Even with tracks that feature heavy verses and pre-choruses, they include a melodic chorus like "Parasite", "No Happy Ever After", "Paralysed" and "Death By A Thousand Cuts". "My Reverie" sounds like a heavier cut that was leftover from the Fever sessions, and it has what I think is Tuck's best vocal performance on the album. Speaking of performance, Jason Bowld's drum performance cannot be ignored. After being somewhat held back on Gravity, he now gets to unleash some really intense and technical grooves, licks and fills, which for a metal drummer, is always a delight.
Now we come to the album's weak point, which is "Bastards". Why, you ask? Well, in order for any song to stand out, the #1 thing it must contain is a good hook, and that accounts for any song ever recorded. This song is one of those songs that lacks the hook, and the chorus is rather lackluster. It feels like it was put together in a rush. The other thing that kind of bothers me as a listener, is that at some points with Tuck's screaming vocals, they sound forced, and it sounds like he's using his throat more than his diaphragm. I can hear this mainly in the chorus of "Knives". The other weak point, which has been the case for much of the band's career, are the lyrics. Tuck has never been the best at writing lyrics, because they always came across as if they were written by an angsty teen.
Highs: "Parasite", "No Happy Ever After", "Can't Escape The Waves" and "Paralysed".
Lows: "Knives" and "Bastards". Matt Tuck was never the best lyricist.
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