When asked in a 2006 interview with Popworld whether heavy metal band Bullet for My Valentine would go more commercial, the band’s frontman Matt Tuck replied, “We would never do [that] … We’re more interested in what our music sounds like than what our f---ing hair looks like.”
Since then, the band has lost its catchy sound and dropped their iconic screaming for radio-friendly vibes.
Nevertheless “Venom,” BFMV’s fifth album, has stopped the band’s spiral into mediocrity. The first signs of life came nine months after the group’s humiliating 2013 release, “Temper Temper,” through a song called “Raising Hell.” Michael Paget opens the track with a wailing guitar squeal before the rest of the crew ramps up into a full-out thrash assault with an almighty crusade of a chorus.
Granted, hearing Matt Tuck croon “This is a war that can never be won” eight times in four minutes may be kind of cheesy, but songs aren’t all about the lyrics. Easily the best track the band has released this decade is “Raising Hell.” The song is relegated to “Venom’s” B-sides, which, having been released nearly two years before the album, seems reasonable until you discover the rest of “Venom” has also been in production since late 2013.
Pre-release singles “No Way Out” and “You Want a Battle (Here’s a War)” are clear runner-ups. The former track features almost entirely screamed verses, a BFMV rarity, and a choral melody that oscillates dexterously between long and short beats. “You Want a Battle” has an anthemic bridge, the type that gets the crowd doing the wave. Most noticeably different from their 2013 counterparts, these BFMV songs abound in sound. And, surprisingly enough, the catchiness is back.
To be honest, there’s nothing too stellar besides these tracks and perhaps “The Harder the Heart (The Harder It Breaks).” The fillers are decent, but this is a buy-the-singles-only album. As for the rest — like so many other songs — their nightcore versions sound better. Nightcore tracks are sped-up, higher-pitched versions of regular songs. Basically, for metal, chipmunk screams sound really legit and high-pitched singing provides a melodic contrast to the meaty instruments.
“Venom” is a solid comeback album, and fans should remember that it’s BFMV’s fifth record. The band already has several classics under its belt, from “Hand of Blood” and “Tears Don’t Fall” to “Waking the Demon” and “Begging for Mercy,” and a few big hits every couple of years is enough for the band’s continuance.