June 25, 2018 Bullet For My Valentine – Gravity (Album Review)
British rockers Bullet For My Valentine has come a long way since their first album, The Poison, in 2005. Now five albums deep into their discography, the Welsh Heavy Metal outfit is turning the page and beginning a new chapter in their lives and career. Under the watchful eye and powerful voice of Vocalist/Guitarist Matt Tuck, Bullet For My Valentine (BFMV) has begun anew with Drummer Jason Bowld joining the ranks alongside Guitarist Michael ‘Padge’ Paget, and Bassist Jamie Mathias.
Now, three years since the release of their last album, Venom, BFMV have returned with Gravity, which will be released June 29th on Spinefarm Records. In the years since their last album, the band has had a chance to refocus their energies and re-calibrate their approach. With Tuck as the primary songwriter, the journey that takes place on Gravity feels very personal and connected, but how does it stack up against classic BFMV?
In “Leap Of Faith,” BFMV is stating their intention from the onset. The album is very much a “leap of faith” for Tuck and the journey he and the band have been on since Venom. It marks the beginning of a new chapter for the band and their approach to songwriting. As many bands often discover the hard way, fans are not always forgiving of a band changing its sound or direction. So in “Leap Of Faith,” when Tuck sings “Jump into the fire” and “Fill your lungs/Inhale the future/Now scream it out,” it could be seen as the band jumping in feet first into this new album and taking it all in, come Hell or high water.
“Letting You Go” starts out beautifully and solemnly before cranking into its grittier chorus. Picking up the tempo, it maintains its orchestral integrity while hitting on some new notes and bringing a new sound to BFMV’s usual intensity. From there we roll into “Not Dead Yet,” which demonstrates anthemic potential. The rising chorus and echoic effects layered in with the poignant use of keys make it a dynamic listen that is compelling and inspiring.
“The Very Last Time” is completely unlike most of their catalog and a serious departure from their Metalcore roots, but an interesting turn of events, nonetheless. There is something icy and atmospheric about this semi-ballad. It is emotional and spellbinding with the way it winds and turns with the symphonic effect of a wind-chill cutting through you. From there, the band jumps right back into the core of their sound with “Piece Of Me” that cuts like a knife right through the cool and airy sphere created by “The Very Last Time.” It is rebellious and biting with a rousing message and demanding presence.
Title track “Gravity” is a swarming and absorbing journey that picks you up right from the start and carries you through as it ebbs and flows. It showcases classic BFMV techniques and their trademark sound while exploring new effects and composition. It is sweeping and engaging while providing the groundwork and foothold for the entire record. The experimentation with electronica and loops in “Coma” is new territory for these Metalcore pioneers, but charting new territory is not anything new to them and their risk seems to pay off here.
From “Coma,” we are thrown into “Don’t Need You” and the tumultuous venture of its pounding percussion and heavy bass. The jagged riffing in this song is heavy and rough, but purposeful. The juxtaposition of the composition of “Don’t Need You” to the softness of songs like “The Very Last Time’ or “Under Again” makes it that much more of a standout akin to their usual wheelhouse.
Closing things out is “Breathe Underwater,” an acoustic, stripped down track that is emotive and captivating in its raw honesty and transparency. If you were not already impressed by the compositional and instrumental dexterity of Tuck and company, you will be with this song and its delivery. While some fans may have hoped and expected a more intense and musically heavier ending to Gravity, the real “weight” of this record is in the depths to which the band explores their songwriting abilities and willingness to step outside the box to pioneer new pathwork in their old stomping grounds.
While there is plenty of classic BFMV on “Gravity” for old-school fans to consume and enjoy, there is even more exploration into the elements of Electronica. Alongside this experimentation comes a marked deviation from primarily heavy riffing and atypical Heavy Metal composition in favor of more orchestral and ballad-esqe framework. The beauty of an album like Gravity is that there is a duology at work in its title – the heaviness you have come to expect with a new lightness and journey you did not see coming. It is the band’s ability to play against themselves and work their journey into a two-fold opus that sets them apart from their contemporaries. So, for daring storytelling and dichotomous, yet unified track blending, CrypticRock gives Gravity 4 out of 5 stars.