In their own way, Bullet For My Valentine have played a big part in my musical education. They were the first metal band that felt like one of my own, a band whose debut album I went out and bought and it wasn’t thirty years after the fact. Of course, since then things have only seemed to go downhill and they’ve gone from the UK’s next big hope to being overshadowed by Bring Me The Horizon and their American peer’s Avenged Sevenfold. Which bring us to Venom, their latest attempt to prove they aren’t dead yet.
Once the obligatory and entirely uninteresting intro track ‘V’ is out-of-the-way, ‘No Way Out’ waddles into view sounding like Trivium’s less exciting baby cousin. Within seconds of the album kicking off you already find yourself struggling to care, because you kind of get the impression Bullet don’t either. This is pop metal by the numbers and it’s not aided by the fact that Matt Tuck’s voice is nowhere near good enough to pull off the big clean choruses that are integral to that sound.
‘Army of Noise’ follows along behind it and to its credit bops along at a jolly old pace, but apart from that just feels like more of the same. ‘Worthless’ starts with Tuck shouting, ‘you worthless human’ before it trundles along into mid-tempo obscurity. It’s biggest sin being the fact that it is tedious rather than offensive. At least offensive would make you feel something.
Which comes to the root of the problem, all of this is just so safe. If ‘You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War)’ came on the radio your mum might declare it a big heavy for her taste, but it probably wouldn’t move her to turn it off. While ‘Venom’ is remarkable only for how bland it manages to be. Lyrics like ‘No, I’m not ready to let you go, No, you need to hear this all you know’ mean that if you can make it through ‘The Harder the Heart (The Harder it Breaks)’ without laughing then you deserve a medal.
The sad thing is that you want to love it. It would be so great to have a truly good heavy metal band coming out of the UK. One that took elements of Metallica and other classic metal acts and made it sound new, fresh and exciting. However, they just continually flatter to deceive. Bullet For My Valentine are the heavy metal band for people who don’t really like heavy metal. If you’ve liked what they’ve done on the past few albums then the odds are you’ll get what you want from Venom. Everyone else will just be left wondering why they wasted their time.