By Tony Ware
Bullet for My Valentine (left to right)—Matt Tuck, Michael Thomas, Michael Paget, and Jason James.
FOR SOME, being in a band is a series of sprints. Welsh quartet Bullet for My Valentine, however, sees it as a marathon. Even though the Cardiff band is commonly tagged as heavily influenced by classic thrash metal, drummer Michael “Moose” Thomas says the group recognizes the diff erence between heavy and chaotic, and will continue to reinforce its longevity through a revaluation of its strengths. This philosophy is exhibited on Bullet for My Valentine’s third full-length, Fever (released on Jive Records in 2010).
“Before, we just wrote songs that were bold enough, but as we got older and more mature we wanted to refi ne how we write songs, we wanted to write better songs rather than ones that were just as heavy as we could get,” explains Thomas. “It wasn’t about piling on riff s in one song unless there was a place for them. Our early songs were full of them, but for this album we needed to pull back, show how simple can be heavy.”
Citing a renewed appreciate for bands such as Black Sabbath, Metallica, and Iron Maiden (the latter of whom Bullet for My Valentine has opened for in the past), Thomas sees heavy music swinging away from the downtuned and oppressively heavy era of nu metal. In the case of Bullet for My Valentine, precision is a key operating factor, and something the band has honed on the road and cemented in the studio. Rather than writing songs for Fever in a fractured manner at soundchecks and on tour buses, Bullet for My Valentine waited to take a break from touring, then the band connected with producer Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Good Charlotte) to record an earnest, straightforward rock record.
“One day, I’d love to put together a collage of cutlery being thrown about, making percussion out of hitting odd objects, the kind of stuff you wouldn’t know was in a record until someone told you,” admits Thomas. “But for this record, it was about being in a big room together, not trying to rush a million miles an hour, so we could write parts that had the most impact.
With these goals in mind, Fever is an album balancing crunched out and clean tones, exhibiting a consistency of tones united in anthemic direction. The tautly gated tempos only twice near ballad territory, but they also don’t approach the same unflagging throttle as certain spikes on 2008’s sophomore release, Scream Aim Fire. The choruses, meanwhile, are as rousing as and more melodic than any the metalcore band has conjured. Fever is a high-gain amalgam that manages to be Bullet for My Valentine’s most accessible material, and an achievement in harmonized arrangements that promises a consummate stage presentation.