Bigger, simpler and more anthemic than the previous five albums, GRAVITY from Welsh metallers BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, is probably their most experimental album to date. Released on June 29th via Search & Destroy/Spinefarm Records, BFMV have added layers and depth that complement the customary riffs and drums that they are so well known for and have added in electronic parts that aren’t overcooked by any measure. There’s a great balance between the electronics, guitars and drums, that when combined with the vocals from Matt and Jamie, deliver in such a way that every part of the music on this new album is accentuated by the other.
From their debut THE POISON (2005), through SCREAM, AIM, FIRE (2008), FEVER (2010), TEMPER, TEMPER (2013) and VENOM (2015) we’ve seen a natural evolution of their sound, each album holding true to their roots but expanding their sound with each successive release. GRAVITY holds true to that and more, taking bolder steps than ever before, pushing into the unknown and, as a whole, stepping away from the formula that has worked so well for them previously. For me, this evolution of BFMV’s sound is most definitely a step in the right direction. The choruses are less complex, there are less overpoweringly complex guitar solos and bridges, and the whole album just feels fresher and more enriching in its simplicity without losing any of its potency. BFMV have created an album that feels so much more like an album for the artists than an album for the fans, choosing to create the music they want to create rather than what they think the fans want. And it really works as it’s phenomenally good.
Album opener ‘Leap Of Faith’ perfectly sums up the idea of what the album is about, it is a leap of faith that BFMV have taken, hoping that the fans will go along with their new sound and direction and for me it was a leap that has worked, “Is this the moment for taking a leap of faith, I’ll jump into the fire, no fear!” says it perfectly to me. Opening with an electronic intro that creates the atmosphere for the rest of the album, then rocketing into the chorus; you’ll be hooked just enough before breaking into the next verse, eagerly waiting for the return of the chorus again.
By adopting this simpler, more anthemic approach throughout the album the vocals are allowed to shine through the music, accentuating the instruments while not being overbearing, and in tracks such as ‘Coma’ and ‘Under Again’ you’ll find that the simpler structure allows for a much more fluid feel. The changes feel more dynamic, the choruses are stronger and the music is full of those essential layers, yet that construct of heavy still remains while it meets the simplistic feel of the synths with a fluidity that works so well.
Holding true to their metal roots, purist fans will relish tracks ‘Don’t Need You’, with bassist Jamie screaming the vocals in true metal fashion; and ‘Over It’, both tracks encompassing more of their old style formula than any other tracks on the album. The fast-paced tempo, heavy bass from Jamie Mathias, drums from new man Jason Bowld and those layered electronics just build and build throughout the tracks while the vocals soar, roar and scream. It’s these tracks that hold the album back slightly from its new direction, just leaving their toes dipping in their old familiar sounds rather than totally cutting the cord and embracing the leap that they’ve taken.
‘Piece Of Me’ has that aggressive tone that is characteristic of BFMV but, with that new direction in their instrumentation, the track is delivered with such a solid edge that it makes it one of the strongest tracks on the album along with ‘Under Again’ and ‘Letting You Go’. ‘Breathe Underwater’ and ‘The Very Last Time’ which vocally are both stunning tracks, are the ballads on the album. ‘Breathe Underwater’ is the raw emotional heart wrencher that brings the album to a close and it’s a beautifully crafted track which sits up there near the number one spot of favourite BFMV songs for me.
A thoroughly enjoyable album from start to finish that has dominated the airwaves in the house and car for the past 2 weeks. My only criticism would be the overuse of the "woah, woah’s" on tracks such as ‘Piece Of Me’, ‘Not Dead Yet’ and title track ‘Gravity’, as for me, they were unnecessary. I understand the theory behind them, they are arena tracks constructed with that added piece that allows the fans to join in, but personally, I got annoyed at the repetition.
As a whole, the album works. It hits all the sweet spots, displays those guttural vocals from Jamie and in contrast the melodic vocals that Matt pulls off so well and that take the band in a direction that seems to suit them well. Michael Paget is incendiary with his riffs and Jamie’s vocals explode throughout the album but they are not, as a whole, overpowering the new simplistic sound they’ve discovered and decided to pursue. The chunky breakdowns, the screaming vocals, the overall composition, and the simplistic yet edgy approach, is a definite winner. I urge old Bullet fans, new Bullet fans and those who've never before listened to Bullet to go grab yourself a copy, it’s totally worth it.
Bullet For My Valentine are:
Matthew Tuck - Lead Vocals/Rhythm/Lead Guitar
Michael Paget - Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
Jamie Mathias - Bass/Vocals
Jason Bowld - Drums/Percussion
Leap Of Faith
Letting You Go
Not Dead Yet The Very Last Time
Piece Of Me
Don’t Need You
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