Bullet for My Valentine released their fifth studio album, Venom, this past Friday. It is be their first album without bassist Jason James, and the first to feature James’ replacement, Jamie Mathias. After receiving mixed to negative reviews on their fourth album, Temper Temper, Venom was seen by many critics as a last chance for the now seventeen-year-old metal band to stay alive in the ever-evolving industry of rock music. Fortunately, combining heavy metal undertones and a return to their previous metalcore sound may offer a new path for the Welsh four-piece in Venom.
After a quick intro in “V,” the album shifts into its first single, “No Way Out.” The track sets the lyrical theme of despair and defeat for the rest of the album, but while the words may offer little solace for listeners, the band’s use of metalcore-influenced drumming, fervent and thrashy riffs, and melodic choruses solidify the album’s prominence, especially when looking back to Temper Temper, which lacked the musical strength and spark BFMV brings to Venom. The one break from the band’s metalcore revival, however, is in Venom’s title track. The song is significantly less heavy than every other track and offers a cleaner sound, making it the album’s best non-single track.
Especially memorable is Venom’s anthemic third single, “You Want a Battle “Here’s a War.” Any song that begins with the words “we will not take this anymore” is sure to rile up listeners, and if the lyrics themselves aren’t enough, the thick riff and rapid-fire drum track will certainly seal the deal. Another notable track is “The Harder the Heart (The Harder It Breaks)”—listeners will be sold on the title alone, but the heated lyrics and intense vocals make it a definite favorite.
Anyone with an eye on the music industry knows it’s sink or swim, and for bands who’ve been making music for more than a mere couple of albums, change isn’t just encouraged—it’s often necessary. Previously huge in the metalcore scene, Bullet for My Valentine takes advantage of its roots while also merging into world of heavy metal—a step seen with other previously more hardcore and metalcore bands as well (see Avenged Sevenfold’s 2013 album, Hail to the King). Venom brings a more professional sound while maintaining the heavy, angsty feel of Bullet for My Valentine’s metalcore beginnings. After missing the mark with the musically lackluster Temper Temper in 2013, Bullet for My Valentine is sure to please both old fans and new listeners with Venom.