It’s been quite a ride for Welsh quartet Bullet for My Valentine. They gatecrashed the metal world almost a decade ago with debut album The Poison (time flies, doesn’t it?) and since then have toured with both Iron Maiden and Metallica, headlined arenas across the UK and even had prime time radio airplay, something most hard rock and metal bands could only dream of.
As anyone who has kept tabs on the band will know though, it hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies. From mixed reviews for both follow-up records to The Poison (2008’s Scream Aim Fire and 2010’s Fever) to singer Matt Tuck’s personal battle to recover from the vocal problems he suffered during the recording of Scream… and the general divide in reception to their musical efforts, the road has been just as rocky as it has smooth. And now, the next chapter of the group’s journey is about to be unleashed, with their fourth studio effort Temper Temper hitting shelves on Monday, February 11th.
The album has once more been produced by Don Gilmore, who worked with Bullet on Fever, and he and Chris Lord-Alge (who mixed Temper Temper and its predecessor) have once more combined with a magic you don’t often see nowadays. Put simply, the production is HUGE on here, particularly with the album’s title track and Saints & Sinners, which hit your ears with such power they threaten to force your eardrums to mimic the same aggression that Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas is getting out of his drumkit. Musically the album is very strong as well – from the opening barrage of Breaking Point through to Livin’ Life (On the Edge of a Knife) the energy in the songs is abundant and doesn’t let up, even through the slower numbers like P.O.W and Dead to the World. There are plenty of solos as well, with both Tuck and Michael ‘Padge’ Paget trading guitar licks and harmonies as slick as they ever have done. This is no longer a band trying to do what others say they should, this is a band who are doing everything for themselves with an AC/DC-esque attitude of ‘don’t fix what ain’t broken’.
Trouble is, they’re continuing to fall short on one key aspect – lyrics. When The Poison was released in 2005, the ’emo’ genre was very much alive and it was a mere 12 months before we were all introduced to The Black Parade, and at the time songs about tears crashing around us spoke volumes to a frustrated generation of teenagers riddled with angst. Sadly, these teenagers have all grown up now, and Bullet’s writing has not. True, some of the fans won’t care a jot, and the easily accessible lyrics will make for massive sing-a-longs at live performances, but it’s all too…safe. Take Truth Hurts, with the chorus ‘Truth hurts, and I’m in pain/Truth hurts, like a bed of nails’. Not exactly Poet Laureate material now, is it? And second single Riot falls flat in the exact same area: ‘Are you ready, it’s time for war/we’ll break down these fucking doors/smash the windows, tear down the walls/we won’t stop ’till it’s all destroyed’. Furthermore, there are a number of moments when they try to fit too many words in and this has a knock-on-effect on the delivery of the songs: regardless of how great they are musically, they don’t strike fear into anybody, and it leaves Bullet for My Valentine looking like they’re all mouth and no trousers. Worst of all is the inclusion of a track named Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2) which, whilst having a superb melody and sound, smacks of desperation and gives off the impression that the band are beginning to run out of ideas.
It’s a real shame because if Bullet were to mature with their lyrical content, they could be world-beaters. As it is, they’re the perennial underachievers, always the bridesmaid and never the bride. As someone once said ‘Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are “It might have been.”‘, and those four words sum up this album to a tee. 6.5/10
Matt Tuck – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Michael ‘Padge’ Paget – lead guitar, backing vocals
Jason ‘Jay’ James – bass guitar, backing vocals
Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas – drums, percussion
1) Breaking Point
2) Truth Hurts
3) Temper Temper
5) Dirty Little Secret
7) Dead to the World
9) Saints & Sinners
10) Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2)
11) Livin’ Life (On the Edge of a Knife)