There is nothing more divisive in rock music than a band daring to stretch their musical boundaries and songwriting abilities. Think Metallica, think BMTH. At the point they stepped out of their comfort zone and pushed themselves, they upset old school fans who accused them of ‘selling out’. Simultaneously though they won over plenty of others with their ability to create new sounds more palatable to wider audiences. You can now add Welsh metal giants Bullet For My Valentine to that collection with their sixth album Gravity.
So what does the album sound like? Opening track Leap Of Faith starts with a keyboard synth effect intro, the anticipation building before the machine gun blast of drums and guitars kick in. It’s dynamic, it has a big chorus, the right amount of light and shade. What is crystal clear though, is this isn’t a song for clubs, it’s for arenas with thousands to sing in unison with the band. It’s still BFMV but it’s bigger, it’s louder and it’s more refined.
Lead single Over It is layered with great guitar melodies, the quiet verses competing against the loud chorus proving this band is still a metal band; while second single Letting It Go is the first time you really begin to notice the part the synths are playing. The fantastic riffs over the first three songs from guitarist Michael Paget works beautifully with the excellent melody vocals from Matt Tuck, the guys backed by bassist Jamie Mathias and new drummer Jason Bowld.
After the gentle teasing throughout the first three songs of what’s ahead, Not Dead Yet begins to deliver the ‘step outside the comfort zone’ moments. The first minute could be 30 Seconds To Mars or BMTH, with gang vocal melodies loud and proud throughout the track while still having the heaviness of previous BFMV tracks.
Then comes the moment that will split fans. The Very Last Time very much sounds like a pop song especially through to the first chorus. Once past that though, it takes life as a big rock song ballad, quite different to past BFMV ballads, that will be sure to get the camera phone lights glowing at the arenas this song deserves to be played at.
Once the shock of hearing a bona-fide pop song dies down, Piece Of Me menacingly follows. A raw, angry expletive filled blast of British new metal that brings you back to earth before Under Again, compete with instantly hummable chorus and a delicious breakdown gets the head nodding.
The placing of tracks is very important to the flow of an album, even in these days of instant ‘jump to track whatever’ on your electronic device, which makes the placing of title track Gravity all the more precious. After hearing some old school BFMV then some new synth driven music on this album, Gravity is the perfect mix of both. Yes, it still has electronic synths weaving through the track. Yes it has the gang vocals aimed at the crowds to sing, yet it’s all mixed with classic guitar melodies, dynamics and anthem chorus we all love. This track could possibly be their best since Tears Don’t Fall and sure to be a live favourite.
The album finishes with Don’t Need You, which is a instance, brutal, driven riffage overload of metal before the beautiful and emotional Breathe Underwater closes the album. The lyrics perfectly matching the underrated vocal talents of Tuck, backed by the acoustic guitars, it really is lump in the throat stuff.
Bullet for My Valentine could continue churning out the same stuff, playing the same clubs and supporting the same mega bands or they could do what they’ve done here. Which is create layers of musical sounds not used before by the band. Add in flavours not tasted in their music previously. They’ve created something new, something daring, something that challenges their glass ceiling. Something that will challenge fans. They are embracing the future and the boys are ready to smash through that and stand as Britain’s main metal men. Can you resist the Gravity and stand with them?
Album Review by Iain McCallum