This week marked the release of UK heavy-metal outfit Bullet for My Valentine’s long-awaited successor to the acclaimed Fever. This comes right on the cusp of their imminent world tour, which starts (as luck would have it) with Australia’s very own Soundwave festival.
It’s important to realise that, although aesthetically Bullet hasn’t transformed much beyond a slight reduction in black nail polish, every consecutive Bullet release has made an evolutionary step forward. Fans have watched in adoration as the five-piece have transformed from chugging metalcore moshers, to face-melting thrash enthusiasts, and now (with the release of Temper Temper) appear as hard-rocking ballad-wielders. Each leap has been just enough to keep us on our toes, but not small enough to leave us bored. This record is no different.
The opening track, Breaking Point, is on all fronts an introduction to what lies on the rest of the album. We hear less screams (we’ll come back to that), a chorus that’s almost too easy to sing along with, and a face-melting solo applied as necessary to liven things up. That isn’t to say that we have a monotonous record on our hands – Bullet have just found their formula and lathered it on thick and heavy.
P.O.W. appears, a little unsurprisingly, as the crowd-swayer you could almost bet on from a Bullet album, a la Bittersweet Memories. Close second for ‘most likely to produce the swaying of iPhone screens and lighters to the beat’ is Dirty Little Secret, which, although initially enticing us with the promise of some circle-pit destruction, gives us a welcome break from the anger of the record, with a hefty dose of angst.
And the anger on Temper Temper is a very interesting thing. It seems the brutality of past BFMV (of which the second track Truth Hurts is an appropriate throwback) has been replaced with a more focused aggression. Breakdowns are out the window – smashed aside like a sidekick to the face by blistering solos at the hands of guitarist Michael Paget. So too do the screamed vocals we came to love find themselves on the back foot (a craving fans may satisfy with vocalist Matt Tuck’s side project, AxeWound).
The unwavering guitar focus, however, doesn’t shift in the slightest. Fans were reassured of this pre-release in the titular single Temper Temper. Though, stylistically, we see some slight variation (Dead to the World is guaranteed to punch 80’s metal fans right in the nostalgia) the never-ending assault of shred leaves us, as always, incredibly satisfied.
Weak points on Temper Temper are few and far between. Most noticeable of these is a slight touch of lyrical over-simplicity (a department in which Leech leaves us seriously wanting). However, this might be attributed to the band producing the record entirely from scratch, rather than from material written prior to recording. In any case, the lack of lyrical originality is completely upstaged by the unfaltering status quo of incredible musicianship.
Temper Temper is Metallica rather than metalcore, but the change has come like the aging of a fine wine rather than the ripping of a band-aid that we see far too often. We can’t wait to taste it at Soundwave.