Here’s a little secret for you, that isn’t actually at all a secret. The first heavy metal band I truly got into was Bullet For my Valentine. They broke at the same time I was moving from Nirvana and Jimmy Eat World onto Metallica and Iron Maiden (not that I stopped loving either of those bands). They were the first band that felt like one of my bands and The Poison is still a cracking album. However, at some point in the last few years things have gone a bit off the rails for Bullet. Rather than, as many predicted, a rise to festival headliner status, they have seen themselves flounder around the same level. Never able to make that next big step.
This fall from grace can be traced quite easily, starting out with Scream Aim Fire which came out three years after the success of The Poison. It saw Bullet embracing their stadium metal band credentials and pushing that as far as they could. Tracks like ‘Hearts Burst into Fire’ (apart from having one of the most awkward titles ever) were big, brash and meant to be sung along with and so they were. The album was in the whole received well and actually hit number five in the UK album charts.
However, from there on in things just went down hill. Fever came out with a whimper, received alright but seeming to leave a lot of people behind. It saw them continuing to embrace the heavy metal edge of their music, but not doing enough to keep the fans engaged. There was no ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ on that album. After that, Temper Temper came along and frankly stunk the place out. What was once fresh and exciting was now a damp squib and the utter tameness of tracks like ‘Riot’ did nothing to push Bullet For My Valentine back into the public consciousness.
And there. Right there. You can spot where things started to go wrong. Bullet For My Valentine went from hungry young guys into rock stars in a relatively short period of time and somewhere along the line they lost that edge. I saw them playing at Download a few years ago and everything about it was good. It was just a bit too good. It was over produced and shiny and had the flames popping up at all the right places. It was like watching a Metallica show (or at least a Metallica show on a good day, as they have been known to be a bit sloppy) but without all of Metallica’s songs. Bullet For My Valentine have some cracking tunes, but they don’t have enough to be that band and it leaves you just wondering if more time was spent on the pyro than was spent on the music.
Of course, things aren’t over for Bullet and a new album is just around the corner. It may well be the album that sees them reclaim that fire and make the step up that we all expected. Sadly though, new song ‘No Way Out’ is a rather bland affair full of generic lyrics and riffs we have heard a million times before. However, judging an album by a single is never a great idea and it could still go on to be great and I really hope it does. The UK needs another great metal band and Bullet For My Valentine have all the ingredients to be that band, they just need to find them again.