Having sold over 10 million records, toured the world countless times and sold out arenas including 10,000 capacity Wembley, Bullet For My Valentine know a thing or two about the rough and raring-to-go sound of hard-hitting rock music. Their fifth studio album, Venom, is set for release on Friday 14th August via RCA Records, and they’ve pushed themselves further and upped the ante, plunging further into the harsh edge of rock music whilst retaining the soaring, crowd-friendly hooks.
Despite their new wave of refined power and enthusiasm, the record has a somewhat shaky start with V sounding like it could pass off for backing at a horror house or Alton Towers ride, and No Way Out providing little original content until the chorus hits. This number, the first taster of the album which received a BBC Radio 1 premiere, comes with a warning from frontman Matt Tuck; “hold tight it’s a hell of a ride”. One of the heaviest off the album and as well as the most personal, Tuck adds, “to write this track I had to put myself into a very dark place, a place I hadn’t been to for a while mentally” – this Bring Me The Horizon-esque state-and-face-your-problems style is prominent at several points on the record.
An onslaught of sounds opens conveniently titled Army Of Noise, and keeping up the semantic field the track delivers a battering of riffs with military precision. After the consistent and rigorous sound of Worthless comes another aggressive number with catchy You Want A Battle – though I can’t help thinking there’s a certain We Bring An Arsenal feel to it. This gives them chance to show how they can so deftly switch from harsh to clean vocals, and though a rather safe and formulaic style leaves it feeling manufactured, the gang vocals that open and close the track only boost its earworm sound.
Unfortunately the contrast doesn’t prevail so well in Broken, another one with a promising chorus but where the harsh/clean split is too vague to have the punchy effectiveness they’d previously nailed. Wrongs are righted with the album’s titled track, which would’ve served a perfect opener from the truly gripping opening through the strong, lyric lead meat of the song to the sure-to-stick-in-mind close. Venom is bound to be met with high praise.
After this lull, The Harder The Heart showcases how they can makes even the most cliched lyrics – “no looking back, no more regrets” – sound like absolute belters dressed up with more than a slight edge, another favourite for the split between a heavy foreground of music and lighter undertones. Skin feels rather similar as a follow-on, and the chanted “there’s no escape” of Hell or High Water feels regurgitated from similar heavy artists, but it’s hard to criticise when it’s pulled off so confidently and excellently.
Rough chants surge energy through Pariah, whilst the tracks slower moments give focus to the spectacular instrumental that tends to go unnoticed among the gripping vocals, whilst recently released Playing God pumps the record full of emancipating energy. By thirteenth Run For Your Life, things start to dip too much into repetitive – an electrified solo tries to keep things fresh but even the almost-spoken word of In Loving Memory can’t push out unoriginality forever, and by closing Raising Hell, little feels new; it’s good the standard edition finishes after Pariah.
Their roughest and most personal work to date, Venom is a ready-for-anything, kicking-and-screaming album of promise. Expect to be blown away.
You can watch the lyric video for No Way Out below.