What a ride Bullet For My Valentine (BFMV) have been on thus far, having gone from being part of a newly anointed ‘New Big 4 of Thrash’, and heralded in the same breaths of Metal’s greatest bands upon the release of their debut album The Poison (Visible Noise) to the flip side of the real lows felt after the release of their fourth record Temper, Temper (RCA) which saw creative levels dip to point where many wrote the band off completely. They attempted a return with 2015’s Venom (RCA) and seemed to be slowly kicking in the Metal cogs into motion again and saw a kind of spluttering rebirth.
Gravity (Spinefarm) is the brand new album and will be seen quite probably be seen as the most divisive of the bands entire career. Reading some of the press and sound bites from the band leading up to their release had, quite honestly, not only got my back up but also really lowered my expectations.
‘Leap Of Faith’ starts things off and serves as a real blueprint for near enough every single track on offer – there’s a generic electronic introduction often mixed with a building guitar and softly sung vocal line and from there on, it’s basically a cut and paste effort throughout. Previously released tracks ‘Over It’ and ‘Letting You Go’ stay true to form, following the same pattern, with the addition of some truly awfully insipid lyrics that at times go far beyond grating. More cookie cutter tracks follow ‘Not Dead Yet’ and ‘Coma’ are just bland and devoid of any merit at all.
There’s little to no pace at all to the album, which also feels like a conscious move away from the more Metal sounding songs the band used to write. Instead everything is much more clinical and even less dynamic. The bells and whistles that have been added may, on the surface, look like a step forward, but they’re not utilised in a way which makes the songs anymore interesting. The overall sound of Gravity merely echoes the route to which Bring Me The Horizon shifted towards on That’s The Spirit (Sony) and, even more so, the overblown nature of 30 Seconds To Mars.
The lack of any real riffs is a major, major problem, as it’s tough to find a way into album; there’s nothing that can penetrate the saccharine production and terrible vocals, and you’re left searching for just a simple hook to hang your hat on.
While being wary of coming off sounding like Mr Angry Bullet Belt bemoaning a band moving away from “true” Metal, I just can’t escape the feeling that the intentions of this record are anything other than a last ditch attempt at grabbing the brass ring. Easily the worst album of their entire career, Gravity has no real depth to it. Be it lyrically or musically, this is an album that lacks any emotion or opportunity for the listener to truly connect with it, which hampers what feels like a cynical shift towards a far more commercial sound.