Bullet For My Valentine – ‘Gravity’ (Album Review)
With few exceptions, metal has become creatively malnourished in recent years. Old ideas have been recycled over and over again, while alternatives are met with resistance at every turn. Bullet For My Valentine are the latest band to step into the breach, preparing Gravity for its time in the spotlight.
Metal fans who dislike being pushed beyond the limits of their comfort zones are going to struggle with Gravity – but it’s absolutely worth giving this album some time to grow on you. Given the number of classic beatdowns and metalcore riffs present throughout the majority of these tracks, it’s difficult to seriously accuse Bullet For My Valentine of selling out. Even when they shift their sound up, BFMV continue to perform for their lives.
They sound like their backs are against the wall – and at this point in their career, they really are. Long-time fans continue to debate whether or not Bullet For My Valentine lost their way a couple of albums back, on Temper Temper – although that was five years ago, and 2015’s Venom did a fine job of making up for it. Bullet have something to prove – and they’re doing it in the most metal way possible, by not giving a fuck.
Matt Tuck even says as much during Piece Of Me, a song that manages to cram blatantly digitized vocals alongside whoa-ohs, a massive Machine Head-influenced beatdown, and a few Bring Me The Horizon-flavoured sections. The latter band’s influence crops up several times, from the gang vocals in Leap Of Faith and title track Gravity to the intro to Over It – and even Linkin Park get a nod on the already controversial Letting You Go. As an advance single, it’s provided a Marmite-like taste of Bullet For My Valentine V6 – one ready to embrace the synthetic as well as the super-heavy – and it’s been divisive, to say the least.
Pretty much every track on Gravity incorporates synths somehow, although acoustic ballad Breathe Underwater is a more old-school album closer. Most of the time, the keyboards work effectively – but you can guarantee that this album will spark more than a few “is it metal” debates when it sees the light of day.
The Very Last Time is plainly not metal, starting off with Imogen Heap-style backward samples and constantly teasing the possibility of heavy, distorted breaks that never come. Instead it stays poppy and downtempo, a risky move that’s actually given birth to a quality rest stop. While there’s barely a thrashy moment in sight (Don’t Need You does include some fast-paced parts, but that’s about it), Gravity is still a pretty intense album.
Again, metal fans accustomed to unrelenting aggression will find Gravity a tough album to digest fully – but this particular release just requires repeated listens and patience. Those determined to hate it will hate it, but there are plenty of deep-in-the-mix rewards for the dedicated.
Although there are a few weak spots – certain riffs are so similar that déjà-vu hits hard later in the album, and Not Dead Yet is too generic, all power chords and more whoa-ohs – Gravity remains a sturdy addition to Bullet For My Valentine’s back catalogue. I personally enjoyed hearing BFMV wear some new influences on their sleeves, and they’ve successfully navigated a difficult fork in the road. This is neither a creative misstep nor an outright abortion – as Bullet For My Valentine have by now made clear, Gravity just is what it is.
At least this album sounds like it was released in 2018, not 2004.
LTK RATING: 92% (Essential Listening!)
Pre-order Gravity (out June 29) on iTunes.
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