Bullet For My Valentine – ‘Venom’

The Bridgend quartet lose their visceral power on cliched fifth album

What do you do when your last two albums have drawn receptions that have been, at the very best, decidedly muted? When you’re sliding down festival bills and the venues you headline are getting smaller? Well, if you’re Welsh metallers Bullet For My Valentine, you go right back to basics. The Bridgend quartet’s fifth studio album cribs from 2005 debut ‘The Poison’ to the extent that it’s even titled ‘Venom’ (see what they did there?). It’s full of all the things that made them a success in the first place, namely, duelling guitars, pounding breakdowns and choruses built for fields full of delirious metalheads to scream along to.

At times all the nostalgia is a tonne of fun: meaty, aggressive tracks like ‘No Way Out’ and ‘Broken’ pack serious punch, with their widdly riffs, fist-pumping breakdowns and furious pace. And if the bruising ‘You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War)’ isn’t the entrance music for a WWE superstar soon then something is seriously wrong.

But the problem is, while the music is as violently powerful as ever, the rage, anger and lyrical bite are starting to sound seriously forced (“You’re only alive when you torture the weak/ Now hear me roar“, screams Matt Tuck on ‘You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War)’) . This is far from the visceral, raw attack of Bullet’s early years where they unleashed cuts like ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ or ‘Four Words To Choke Upon’ (both from ‘The Poison’). Rather, it’s a pastiche, the sound of a band struggling to fit into the same jeans they did a decade ago and relying on the same old clichés. Musically they’re rolling back the years, but the screams of betrayal and agony ring decidedly hollow these days.