At some point over the last couple of years, Bullet For My Valentine woke up to find themselves existing in an awkward state of musical limbo.
The band achieved unprecedented success with “The Poison” in 2005 but they’ve been unable to capture that same energy ever since. That album is now a decade old and the group quickly descended into mediocrity, culminating in one of the worst metal releases in recent history know as “Temper Temper”.
So pathetic and outright incongruous was that recording, Bullet had slipped from trailblazer status to the butt of jokes. What could possibly happen next?
Fortunately, weary Bullet fans have been rewarded for hanging about.
Venom is a return to form. It’s not exactly golden-era Bullet, but it’s a lot more encouraging. The band is playing their strengths again and it sounds refreshing. Tracks like Army Of Noise and Worthless lead the charge with that perfect mix of melody and riffage. Both tracks chug along with an attitude and groove that was sorely missed in recent years. The songwriting is tighter, more thought-out and just makes more musical sense.
Sure, the lyrical content is still pretty derivative but the vocals are sharp and you can hear the chemistry once more. Vocal and guitar harmonies are carefully thought out and professionally executed. There are more breakdowns on Venom than we’ve heard in a while but they don’t sound overly repetitive, instead providing extra bite and complimenting the overall tone of the record.
Unfortunately the band slams on the breaks at the halfway point of Venom. The tracks become a less interesting, as if the group just ran short of ideas. The second half isn’t bad, but it’s nothing when compared to the first. Pariah is a yawn, Playing God is repetitive and boring, and the bonus tracks aren’t worth playing more than twice.
That said, the album stills holds up pretty well thanks to its first half. The title track is even reminiscent of “Tears Don’t Fall” without feeling overly similar, and “No Way Out” is full of the energy and fire we heard from Bullet long ago. This is great news.
Venom may be plagued by a slow fade in quality over its timeline, but that’s only because the first few tracks are so good. If Bullet can build on the energy shown on this album they could well be on their way to a renaissance period. Venom has put the band leaps and bounds away from Temper Temper and has me very interested in their next move.