I like a bit of poison. Especially the type served up in the debut album of the same name from Welsh metal-core band Bullet For My Valentine. It left me eager to see if they could live up to their ever-growing reputation and to hear what they had been up to once they got back in the studio.
Certainly things are moving fast for the band from Bridgend. Over the last couple of years they have been sharing the stage with some of their main inspirations such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Guns N' Roses.
They have played just about every major rock festival and had The Poison described by The Sun newspaper in the UK as "one of the finest debut albums in rock history". Their faces have also adorned the cover of Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, and Rock Sound magazines.
In January this year the eagerly awaited follow up, Scream Aim Fire, was released. Produced by Colin Richardson (Machine Head, Funeral For A Friend) it is eleven tracks of largely solid, powerful aggression underpinned by some fresh melodic hooks and potential stadium anthem choruses.
The band consist of the voice of Matt Tuck, the guitar of Michael ‘Padge’ Padget, bass player Jason ‘Jay’ James, and drummer Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas. Collectively the band comes at you like an unmuzzled jet engine generating enough rhythmic power to light your town. Yet it is accessible and contains lyrics that give it all a vital sense of reality.
It is clear from the off that they have stepped up a gear. The Maidenesque gallop through the title track that opens the album sets the scene and gears you up for a trip of often uncompromising power. It includes a superb guitar break, one of the best on the album.
“Eye Of The Storm” ensures that you won’t catch your breath and has some more impressive ‘Padge’ digital dexterity on a guitar solo that breaks through to the melodic.
“Hearts Burst Into Fire” is an impressive arena anthem that should crop up on airplay. On the band’s official website Matt Tuck says, "the track “Scream Aim Fire” set the benchmark for the rest of the album. It was the moment we realized the direction of where we wanted the record to go."
Certainly “Waking The Demons” does exactly what its title says. It’s solid unrelenting aggression underpinned by some wired drumming, and typically effective Bullet bass. It is written about someone who has suffered bullying who wakes up one day and decides that they won't take any more.
It is true that “Disappear” taps into more galloping Maiden territory but it also shows the band developing its own identifiable direction. Again it is ignited by another excellent guitar solo.
“Deliver Us From Evil”, and “Take It Out On Me” both illustrate the huge steps they have taken along the road since The Poison. They are pacey, full of substance, and a definite statement of future intent. They sit solidly balanced between sheer speed and the melodic.
“Say Goodnight” saves you from needing oxygen with an excellent power ballad offset by the Matt's aggression. There is a new maturity to this type of Bullet track that builds upon previous attempts on The Poison. The ‘in-your-face’ vocals reappear on “End Of Days”, and “Last To Know”.
The band wraps it up with “Forever And Always” a seven minute track that highlights the band’s bent towards the melodic to great effect. This is the one that will divide opinion from the various elements among the metal hordes but it works for me and is my album highlight. Altogether it represents an impressive end to a solid album.
As much as I was impressed by The Poison, Scream Aim Fire should push the whole Bullet For My Valentine momentum the extra distance. As good as this one is I have a feeling that the third will see it all honed into something quite outstanding.