By Greg Maki
After pursuing a slick, hard rock sound on 2018’s “Gravity,” Bullet for My Valentine has brought back the metal in a big way on its seventh, appropriately self-titled record. Focused, razor sharp and monstrously heavy, this is BFMV making almost no concessions to court airplay or chase current trends. Don’t call it a return to the band’s roots, though. Its full-length debut, “The Poison” (2005), was metalcore through and through, while this album is straight-up metal, pulling from thrash more than any other subgenre. With the band at its heaviest and most technical to date, consider this “Scream Aim Fire” (2008) on steroids.
After a somewhat unnecessary intro featuring distorted bits of previous BFMV songs, “Parasite” kicks things into high gear, where they stay for the next several songs, highlighted by the unrelenting metallic onslaught of “Knives,” the band’s most aggressive song to date. While there are no ballads here, there are some deviations, adding variety and resulting in some of the record’s best moments, specifically the percussive “Bastards” and the slower, menacing “Rainbow Veins.” The record’s strongest track, “Shatter,” employs a vicious stomp that brings to mind “Black Album”-era Metallica. Throughout the 10 songs, vocalist/guitarist Matt Tuck leans more heavily on harsh tones than clean, a good look for him as his cleans always have sounded a bit thin for my liking.
The album’s strength is not just heaviness, though that certainly helps. Countless acts go heavier than what we hear here, but few can combine that with the songwriting chops BFMV has honed over more than two decades as a band. It adds up to a newfound power that makes this record Bullet for My Valentine’s finest hour.
Spinefarm Records – November 5, 2021
Buy “Bullet for My Valentine”
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