Welsh rockers Bullet For My Valentine have stood the test of time through the wave of metalcore, deathcore and all the many other sub-genres that have popularised over recent years (and decades). The band launched onto the scene in the late 90s and and exploded with their 2005 Hand of Blood EP before pulverising metal as we knew it with their first LP The Poison later that year.
Akin to bands like Trivium as our writer KJ Draven puts it in his review of the band’s self-titled record (read it here), Bullet For My Valentine have undergone a plethoric journey across seven studio albums, which not many of their kind withstand these days, and more importantly to the same popularity as they always have.
The UK band have grabbed many new fans and also let many go as they’ve tossed around different styles and directions all the way from the prolific Fever record of 2010 through to the contentious Temper Temper and to the more recent reinventions with Venom and Gravity.
Fast-forward to 2021, and Bullet have hit their pinnacle with their eighth record, aptly self-titled. If you’ve heard any of what Matt Tuck and the boys have delivered so far, you might have got the shock of your life. The way we put it when we first heard ‘Knives’ was ‘straight up thrash metal’ – and that it is.
When we pulled aside Tuck once again, after checking in with the metal maestro regularly over the years, he was feeling great about the pending album release, albeit before the release date was shifted. On the heaviness of singles like ‘Knives’ and ‘Shatter’ the frontman smiles – “It’s feeling good, man (he laughs). People seem to really be on board with the heavier side of what Bullet has to offer these days, and we’ve got a lot more good sh*t to come as well.”
Having heard an advanced copy of the band’s upcoming album, let me tell you, Tuck isn’t kidding – it could easily be their heaviest album yet and you’ll feel a fire under your ass once you hear it. On already released singles ‘Parasite’ and ‘Knives’, Tuck says – “It’s the starter, the catalyst for the rest of the record. It couldn’t be more different to Gravity, which I love.”
Bullet For My Valentine is so thrashy at times, it’s reminiscent of the band’s 2005 cover of Metallica’s ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’, (as featured in our list of top Metallica covers) but the metal titans weren’t explicitly on the band’s mind when writing and recording in 2021.
“They’re (Metallica) just in my DNA. It’s something that I have in me from growing up. The whole reason why I picked up a guitar and wanted to be in a band, as it is for most musicians and metalheads growing up in the early to mid-90s.”
“It’s a kind of dialled up version of Bullet, really,” Tuck says in summing up the album in a few words. “We just really wanted to push the boundaries and Knives was the song that gives the compliment to not be scared to write heavy music.”
Tuck describes their monster 2018 effort Gravity as a catalyst for the self-titled record. “After we came out of Gravity, it was like a tsunami, it was just f*cking riffs and carnage man, and that’s the really cool link between these two records.”
However, as much as the upcoming album has moments of straight-up-thrash-metal, if you know BFMV, you’ll know they always balance the heavy with the melodic, the immensely emotional, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. The 41-year old talks about track five on Bullet For My Valentine, which he describes as notable.
“Can’t Escape The Waves is a pretty special song to me. Now, I’ve written a lot of songs over the years, and I think [both] lyrically and vocally, this song has melodies and other elements,” where the frontman can honestly say – “I don’t think I’ve ever written a more beautiful song.”
If you’ve ever seen Tuck in interviews, you’ll know he’s a very humble musician, so these words aren’t used lightly. “Our producer, Carl (Addy) was like ‘damn dude, these lyrics – they’re poetic’” Tuck laughs reflectively “I was like okay, cool – that’s not something you really think about. You just want to write stuff that’s from the heart.”
When you tie in the piercing metal, the melodies, ballads and their classic recipe, you’ve got the epitome of Bullet For My Valentine in one album. “I think that’s why this album was self-titled,” Tuck says proudly. “We just thought it’s kind of the ultimate Bullet record, it really does encapsulate everything that is good about this band, the journey we’ve been on and there’s moments in this record from every era.”
When you get to listen to the Welshmens’ new album, you’ll realise they’ve gone balls to the wall. “It’s doesn’t f*ck around man,” he warns cheekily. “It’s heavy, it’s intense, it’s visceral, but there are choruses that are so uplifting and anthemic.”
Tuck feels proud of the band’s reclaimed confidence in 2021, and recognises that it took some time for them to get there. “We went through a transitional time between like 2016 and 2018, just like, how do we work with new band members? And it’s not something you can do overnight, it does take time,” the vocalist says, referencing the departures of Jason ‘Jay’ James (ex-bassist and Kill The Lights’ Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas (ex-drummer), succeeded by Jamie Mathias and Jason Bowld respectively, in recent years.
“It was good, it was exciting times, but it was disruptive and there was a transition, you know? I think what was going on personally, for people in the band, including myself, it felt quite unsettled, I felt quite unsure of myself.”
Tuck reassures those teething moments have beyond settled. “It feels like we’re really confident around each other now, we’re confident as a band, and we’re really confident of the direction the band is heading in,” he says proudly.
With his old bandmates moving onto other musical projects, it’s worth noting that Tuck himself has dabbled in a musical project, albeit not in quite some time. Formed in 2012, he joined AxeWound, consisting of Cancer Bats’ Liam Cormier on vocals, Tuck on guitar and backing vocals, as well as members from Glamour of the Kill and others, including his now-bandmate Bowld who, at the time was with Pitchshifter. The band released just one LP titled Vultures, including singles ‘Cold’ and ‘Exorchrist’.
It was genuinely exciting to hear Tuck dabble in something different, and it’s curious to know whether AxeWound fills his mind in any way at all. “There’s a lot of AxeWound love out there,” he giggles. “I feel like there’s always a little bit of AxeWound in the band, now that Jason’s behind the kit. It was a cool project to do, man.”
On whether we’ll ever hear more from the near-decade-old side-project, it seems unlikely, but if there’s anything to hang onto, Tuck’s said – “never say never, because I’d like to do something again in the future.”
It’s been said time and time again that Bullet For My Valentine seem unstoppable, in that they’ve shone through many eras of heavy music, and it’s never fazed them. “Sometimes, when you have quite the longevity of a career like we do, you wonder ‘should we try something different,”
“But then I think that we just do what we do to have fun, to enjoy it – do what makes you smile.”
Interview by Ricky Aarons (@rickysaul90)
Pre-order Bullet For My Valentine’s self titled album here.
Bullet For My Valentine – Bullet For My Valentine tracklisting:
3. My Reverie
4. No Happy Ever After
5. Can’t Escape The Waves
7. Rainbow Veins
10. Death By A Thousand Cuts