Metal is a strange beast. At the same time both an entrenched institution and an escapist counterculture, it thrives off it’s own in-house nostalgic dogma, traditions and conventions whilst demanding a sense of progression and competitive camaraderie from its artists and followers alike.
Wales’ finest Bullet For My Valentine have forged a career through an understanding and awareness of their genre, that coupled with shades of that ever-so-accessible Cardiff sound has fired them to both commercial success and accusations of generica. ‘Fever’ is no different. For the initiated and interested it’s another effort built on the thrash of old and the post-hardcore revived riff metal of now. Those not so sold on the idea will find the same band that released the unintentionally comic deadpan seriousness of ‘Scream Aim Fire’.
Bullet For My Valentine have long flirted, however unwittingly, with being the UK’s answer to Trivium without the ideas, flair or tricks; a jet black maned time machine back to Metallica‘s days of lightning riding and puppet mastery. From the very beginning of ‘Fever’, Matt Tuck‘s vocals play out like a graduate of the James Hetfield school of exuberant growled follow throughs. The music itself thunders alongside as if waiting for a certain Howard Jones to step in. The spectre of Killswitch Engage hangs heavy over many of the 12 tracks and is especially prevalent on opener ‘Your Betrayal’, title track ‘Fever’ and ‘Pleasure And Pain’. Although the music and vocals gel together without incident there’s all too often the sense of borrowed sounds creeping into view under the pretext of influence. With many of the tracks on ‘Fever’ feeling written to an increasingly stale formula, there’s bound to be accusations of stolen inspirations when all too familiar ideas raise their heads above the parapet.
Besides the lack of originality on offer, the major weakness of ‘Fever’ is its lyrics. Only when Tuck‘s words are absent, obscured or easily ignored does the music underneath shine. At all other times the sheer predictability and lack of sophistication in the delivery kills off any sense of intent from the band at large thanks to some moronic and juvenile lines that whimper and wilt rather adding bite to the work of guitars, bass and drums. The stand out track is ‘Alone’ with its earnest attempts at atmosphere and scale that although failing at achieving the heights it sets itself, strives to meet them none the less.
‘Fever’ suffers from clichÃ©d, overly generic writing and some truly terrible lyrics. Bullet For My Valentine probably won’t care however as this album is sure to adorn the players of the target audience it was written for. This is safe, easy to engage with, entry level metal for the masses or gormless, pre-heated slop for the already entranced autopilot.
Written by Greg Johnson