No Control Radio
Bullet For My Valentine plus special guests
Finding themselves five albums in and long established as one of the biggest British metal acts in music history, Bullet For My Valentine have been busy rewriting their own future – finding new ways to invent intelligent noise and remaining unshackled by the legacy that comes with being masters of the trade. After initially forming as Jeff Killed John in 1998, eventually securing a five-album major label deal, their 2005 debut The Poison and 2008 follow-up Scream Aim Fire would provided an injection of what heavy music was very much lacking at the time. Consecutive full-lengths Fever, Temper Temper and Venom would cement their stature as modern masters, selling millions of albums worldwide and being crowned Best British Band at the Kerrang! Awards three years in a row – where they’ve also been awarded for Best Single, Best Live Band and Best British Newcomer. It’s not just the press and fans that have afforded them such faith – even the heroes that inspired them in the first place, bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica, have personally selected BFMV to hit the road and share the stage with them.
Returning with new opus Gravity, the Welsh quartet have stretched their creative wings like never before, delicately balancing film-score electronica and icy synths in their trademark hellfire of hard rock. Yet, in many ways, its 11 tracks are the mark of a band at their most focused and refined – utilising an expansive whirlpool of noise to clarify their message, rather than overcomplicate it. Opener Leap Of Faith is as devilishly catchy and heavy as any of BFMV’s biggest hits to date, while the stripped-down acoustics of Breathe Underwater capture a side to them that’s never been heard before. With touring drummer Jason Bowld joining founding singer/guitarist Matt Tuck, fellow axeman Michael ‘Padge’ Paget and bassist Jamie Mathias, this is a band reborn – in more ways than one…
“Over the last 12 months, I’ve been thinking about the word contemporary a lot,” reveals Matt, in the run-up to release. “And I feel this is a contemporary record. It’s not an old school, heart-on-your-sleeve influences thing. We’ve done that so let’s move forward and make the band more interesting. We don’t want to alienate anyone… but we don’t want to write the same shit anymore. Metalheads will enjoy this, I actually feel the softer electronic parts make the heavy moments even more crushing. It’s about engaging the listener and taking them on a journey, messing with their heads a bit…”
New offerings such as Letting You Go, The Very Last Time, Under Again and Coma are among those that are guaranteed to mess with heads – marking a departure from the metalcore scene they were instrumental in popularising. It’s arguably the bravest move of their career to date, their ultimate act of defiance. And somehow, a song like Coma could also contain one of the heaviest riffs this band have ever put their name to…
“That’s a dark track with a lot of weight to it,” nods Matt. “It’s definitely one for those that like broodier, heavier songs. We tried to push the boundaries a bit further on that song with all the electronic stuff and loops. Lyrically, it’s a true representation of where I’ve been over the last two years unfortunately… but now I’ve come out of the other side.”
The three years since 2015’s Venom haven’t been easy for BFMV’s commander-in-chief. But instead of falling deeper down a tunnel of self-despair, he channelled his life experiences into art like never before. It would be one of the most introspective and revelatory processes of his life – by his own admission, a personal and creative evolution that simply needed to happen…
“This is me pouring my heart out into song,” continues Matt. “It’s all about that journey.
I picked up my guitar, even though I didn’t really want to, and it’s like I couldn’t stop it, like I couldn’t fight it… Something boldly experimental can’t be done on a whim, we had to be comfortable and eventually we got there. The album is so up and down, so positive on tracks like Not Dead Yet, which is all about seizing the day and catching the moment. Then Under Again is all about the crushing depression I had about a year ago. The whole thing captures the character of… well, me – with some help from [producer] Carl Bown. There’s so much weight to this music without being complicated. That’s exactly what this album is: very uncomplicated.”
Having a multi-instrumentalist like Jason fully on-board also played a big part in this latest chapter of their history – the sticksman having worked with Matt previously in BFMV/Cancer Bats offshoot Axewound. The insight from a musician that made his name playing in Pitchshifter, Killing Joke and Pop Will Itself was not to be ignored – bringing something very different to the classic heavy metal influences at play between the long-lasting Tuck/Paget guitar partnership. This band has never been more ready to explore the unexplored, believes their charismatic frontman…
“While I’ve always been the main songwriter, it’s always been good having Padge supporting when needed,” continues Matt. “He’d bring ideas to the table, and now with Jason involved as well, it’s been incredible – he can write, sing, play guitar, drum, program electronic stuff, he’s just lives it. After the success of the last cycle, we clawed our way back up to where we needed to be, but this time we needed to do something people felt we couldn’t do. We had to make a statement – there could be no better time for the rebirth of Bullet. There’s no point relying on old glories to take us forward – that would be unimaginative, uncreative and boring. The history will always be there, it’s in the books. That’s Bullet. But we’ve moved on.”
As for the history to be made, it’s very much the break of a new dawn for BFMV. Their founding frontman has his sights set higher than ever before. He admits he has already “won the lottery” living out the dreams he had as young teenager, honing his craft and learning to control every corner of that stage. He explains it’s “been amazing and a privilege but you can’t keep shouting about the past – lose steam and it can all be taken away.” You have to keep on winning those lotteries, he humbly explains. Now, having headlined festivals around Europe and various other parts of the world – it’s time to look closer to home…
“We are more than ready for the UK, we’re the best band we’ve ever been,” comes the reply, when asked about being one of the frontrunners in the race to becoming future headliners of Download Festival. Count the number of British bands that realistically look poised for such elevation and it soon becomes clear just how much Bullet For My Valentine’s hard work has been paying off. But no matter how much his band have achieved so far – topping charts and winning awards with platinum records – this will always be a band on-the-cusp in their frontman’s eyes. And perhaps there lies the secret to their success…
“When you get those shots, you make them count,” reasons Matt. “We can hold our own with the best of them and Gravity feels like our best opportunity to headline Download. Bring it on. Other bands might be heavier, but we have the songs – we will always win on that front. I don’t want us to be another boring band that just does okay. Until I’m headlining those festivals, I’m not satisfied. Nothing else matters.”
With a new album, a new line-up and a new sound skyrocketing what is shaping up to be the biggest year of his career to date, you’d better believe him.
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