February 21, 2008

CD Review: Bullet For My Valentine - Scream Aim Fire

I have to admit, this is my very first exposure to UK metalcore exports Bullet For My Valentine. It is not that I had not heard of them (I had), it is that I made a conscious decision not to listen to them. There, I said it. Go ahead and let me have it. Wait, let me try to explain myself first. First impressions are everything, and band names count for a lot in music. Bullet For My Valentine just sounded like another emo/screamo band name, and not being into that style (with some exceptions), I chose to skip over them and focus on bands that appeared more my style. With all of the music, movies, and television that I am into I often have to make snap decisions as to whether to spend the time on a given title/band. These guys started out on the losing end. So, I have not yet heard their debut, Poison, but I can now say I have listened to them. What do I think? That would be telling. Read on.

When the band's sophomore release, Scream Aim Fire, arrived in my mailbox I still had my doubts. Was I in for another Escape the Fate or Till We Die? I could only hope not. I honestly did not now what they sounded like and I approached my initial listen with trepidation.

I took the disk from its slipcase, taking a moment to admire the cover art. It isn't the best I have seen, but there is definitely something appealing about the image. It is a low-angle image of an old theater, the blank marquee is cracked, and there is a menacing sky overhead filled with circling birds. It gives off a "something bad happened here" vibe that is worthy of a first rate horror film. Okay, that gives a little bit of hope for what is captured on the shiny metallic disk.

With the CD finally in my computer's CD player, I was almost ready to give it a listen. First, I gave it a rip so I could put it on my music player of choice, the ubiquitous iPod. With that out of the way, my trembling mouse pointer clicked play, and I sat back believing I was ready for what was to come.

The title track opens up a speedy tom roll before a galloping guitar riff kicks in, so far, so good. Then the vocals and the song kicks into full gear. To my surprise there is no emo/screamo feel, rather I get the distinct impression of Iron Maiden crossed with Killswitch Engage, and while it is not nearly as good as either of the apparent inspirations, it is not bad at all. This is very much a metalcore band, and a skilled one at that.

The heavy/thrashy elements continue to drive forward into the second track, "Eye of the Storm." If anything, this song ramps up the speed and intensity, the guitars speed through chugging riffs, while the drums provide a constant speedy stream to keep everything surging forward. If anything, the vocals are the weakest element. Not to say he is bad, far from it, but they just stand out during the faster moments.

"Hearts Burst Into Fire" offers up a distinct change of pace. The furious pace of the preceding songs is slowed down and the vocals pick up for a song that is clearly designed for radio airplay. Not a bad thing, as he song is quite good, but it is a song that I could here getting regular airplay on the local pop station. The slow down does not last for long as "Waking the Demon" kicks in and does not let us forget that we are listening to a band with a strong metal base.

They even manage to toss in a couple power-ballad style tracks, led by the "Cemetery Gates"-esque "Say Goodnight." It may not reach the heights that bands past have with this type of song, but it is uplifting to hear a primarily metal act have the guts to play it to the hilt. Sure, it gets a bit heavy at the end, but that does not change what it is. The other ballad closes out the album, it goes by the name "Forever and Always," and reminds of the power ballad heyday with its guitar line and sing-along moments.

After giving Scream Aim Fire sink in a little, I am glad for my belated introduction to Bullet For My Valentine. Despite having a name that is not terribly appealing (I had a similar, more prolonged, reaction to Helloween), they turn out impressive music that is as much influenced by the classics of old as it is informed by the dominant styles of today. Yes, there is plenty to like here, even if you are a fan of more pure metal. No, you aren't likely to give up on the pure acts, but you may (will?) find some new elements to enhance your ongoing musical experience.

Perhaps you will like the vocal styles of Matt Tuck, or maybe the thrashy/corey (is that right?) guitar style of Tuck and Padge (that's right, just one name). Drummer Moose Thomas delivers plenty of driving, double bass beats to keep you happy and the songs surging, while Jay James backs it all up with his unobtrusive bass lines.

Bottomline. These guys fall squarely in the metalcore realm, bringing in a number of influences and molding them into an interesting mixture that may not put them at the top of the genre, but do make them very likable. They transcend the band name and deliver the goods in the form of heavy riffs and catchy songs.


Track Listing:
1 Scream Aim Fire (4:26)
2 Eye of the Storm (4:02)
3 Hearts Burst into Fire (4:57)
4 Waking the Demon (4:07)
5 Disappear (4:05)
6 Deliver Us from Evil (5:58)
7 Take It out on Me (5:52)
8 Say Goodnight (4:43)
9 End of Days (4:18)
10 Last to Know (3:17)
11 Forever and Always (6:46)


Anonymous said...

hey guys !
found sofar unreleased stuff from the band on this kyte.tv !
it`s realy awesome, check it out:


i luv this band !!!!!

Anonymous said...

draven,I completly dis agree they are fantastic love them the only thing that would make them better is more screaming

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