REVIEW: "Gravity" By BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE
Alt-Metal/Spinefarm Records/Released June 29, 2018
Change scares a lot of people. Especially music fans. But Bullet For My Valentine are a band that definitely needed a fresh direction. After an impeccable run with their first three albums, 2013's Temper Temper rubbed many fans and critics the wrong way with it's more hard rock direction. 2015's Venom brought back the heavy, but felt watered down compared to the band's early work and lacked the quality hooks the band built its name on. With their reputation on the line, BFMV are moving in stark new territory with their latest record Gravity.
The first few singles released from the album caused quite the headspin for many long time fans. The raw, thrashy metalcore and displays of technical proficiency have been traded in for a simpler, melodic approach with the glossiest sounding production the band has utilized to date. The production and overall musical style puts the album's sound more in the realm of an Asking Alexandria or Bring Me The Horizon. .
That said, the sound switch isn't overly out of place for BFMV. They came onto the scene with a lot of emo elements on their debut The Poison. And along with their focus on hooks and lyrics about relationships this progression seems pretty natural. And without the aggressive shredding behind the vocal melodies it's a good thing Gravity contains the strongest choruses the band has had since 2010's Fever. Albeit with Matt Tuck's teen angsty lyrics still behind them.
If you can get past the softer sound on this record, opening tracks "Leap Of Faith", "Over It", and "Letting You Go" are strong, catchy hits. Despite the glossy production the guitars still have a lot of punch to them and enough chugginess to make you want to bang your head. While none of these are moshers, these tracks will go over well live with the arena worthy hooks. "The Very Last Time" is a mid album ballad that slows things down and features some electronic percussion and prominent strings. While the lyrics aren't much to write home about the melody is strong and somehow avoids going into cheese territory.
The second half of the album continues the general sound of the the first. And surprisingly has very little drop in quality. This is helped with having only eleven tracks on the album which keeps the filler to a minimum. "Don't Need You" is the heaviest track of the album with its fast tempo and is closer to the sound BFMV is more known for. Though it does have the same high end production as the rest of the album with some of Tuck's vocals being processed and strings filling a lot of the chorus. Album closer "Breathe Underwater" is an acoustic ballad that is once again aided by strings. Yet this production tactic somehow doesn't get old.and works as a boon more than a crutch.
Gravity is a pretty brave gamble for Bullet For My Valentine. Many of their long time fans are sure to be turned off by the push toward radio friendly melody, fancier production, and distance away from metal. Though for newcomers to the band and the more open minded, BFMV have pulled off the sound switch with a high level of adeptness that brings to mind Bring Me The Horizon's two most recent albums. While divisive, there's plenty of fun to be had with this record and, in my eyes, is a resurrection of sorts after their past two lackluster efforts. It'll be interesting to see if the band will go further in this direction and build on this sound or try to work their way back to their metal roots.