Getting in touch with my metal side this week, I decided to have a listen to Welsh metalcore band Bullet For My Valentine. I’ve been a fan of them for a while now, and after their last album I was pretty keen on hearing Temper Temper, released this month. Their last album Fever was full of terrific guitar riffs and catchy hooks, definitely leaning towards a more popular music album.
Bullet For My Valentine’s tour of Australia began last week, and I’ll be seeing them on Wednesday, so it makes sense that I should listen to this album beforehand.
From the cover artwork to the music to the lyrics — I will say that many people have mentioned their disappointment in the album, and did before I listened to it. The face value of this album is unimpressive. One shouldn’t judge an album by cover or song titles, and often they are incredibly misleading, but something about this album seems… wrong. Perhaps that’s what people are getting at.
While I listened to the album without giving the cover or song titles much attention, I’ll say it upfront: I was also a little disappointed with Temper Temper. I’ve listened to it from beginning to end three times and given it all the chances, and now I’ll point out its strong and weak points.
The first track, Breaking Point, was disjointed at times, the instruments not supporting Matt Tuck’s vocals the way we’d expect. The chorus made up for it. The song reminds us of Fever, with the rich guitar riff before close, the rough screams and Matt Tuck’s melodic vocals.
Truth Hurts picks up the more constant powering guitar riffs that we saw present in Fever, but the lyrics to this song are hard to accept. “Truth hurts and I’m in vain, truth hurts like a bed of nails” sound incredibly morose, not to mention it’s general knowledge that the truth does hurt, and there are only so many ways you can make assonance (vain/nails) work in a metalcore song. There are also only so many ways you can really sing a pair of short lines with words consisting of single syllables.
Temper Temper is the third track, which picks up the power with the guitar solos. Matt Tuck’s vocals are definitely more powerful in this song as well, utilising a greater variety of vocal techniques. The ending of this song is strong and distinct.
The tempo slows in P.O.W., giving us vocals much like those in Breaking Out, Breaking Down, from Fever. We begin to notice that this album is almost, if you will, a shadow of Fever. Very similar, and we can possibly even pinpoint which tracks on Temper Temper match those on Fever. So do we like P.O.W.? Yes we do — for now.
Dirty Little Secret is the shadow of another song on Fever — Alone. Unfortunately, the title instantly reminds me of the All-American Rejects song of the same name. It’s a song that is dubiously better than the previous bunch, seeming to flow a bit more, show off a bit more of what the band can do musically with their instruments, but still feels very rough.
Leech is the poorest track on the album. We have already had a taste of the music on this album, and it’s unfortunately getting to the point where it’s so weak, we begin to notice how poor the lyrics are. I won’t deny that the bass, guitar riffs and style of vocals in this song are strong, but the lyrics: “your invitation, it doesn’t exist, so tell me why you keep crashing the party”. So… not only are we dealing with sentences taken directly from everyday speech (“you’re so delusional, yea”), but we’re dealing with a slight grammar issue — “your invitation, it doesn’t exist”.
Dead To the World does remain a favourite of mine purely because it allows the band to show what they’re capable of in terms of slower, gentler tracks, and does remind me of A Place Where You Belong, from — you guessed it, Fever. This song picks up in the second half, albeit a little out of place. Out of place, but the kind of guitar and drumming we’re hearing here is actually what we expected the rest of the album to be like. And here it is, hidden at the end of one of the longest tracks on the album.
Forget the power we heard in Temper Temper. Forget Matt Tuck’s better vocals in P.O.W. This — Dead to the World — is where the hidden treasure is.
Sadly, I don’t feel like listening to much of the rest of the album after this realisation. The poor lyrics hit us at their peak in Riot:
Woah, here come the sirens, here comes the law
Woah, run from the sirens, run from the law”
I dare say a ten-year-old could write more creative song lyrics.
Tears Don’t Fall, Pt. 2 put smiles on the faces of old fans who have been following the band since their first album The Poison. Unfortunately, the song lost respect at this point, what with the rest of the album’s sound. And as we know, having “part 2” of a song that was so popular, well-liked and musically acknowledged is redundant. There wasn’t ever a need for Tears Don’t Fall to have a second part.
We don’t want to mention it, but the lamely named Livin’ Life (On the Edge of a Knife) finishes the album. The vocals are whiny and perhaps a metaphor for the sigh of disappointment that is escaping us right now. Fever was the band’s last album before this, and we might as well go back and listen to that, because it had an impeccable variety of tones and textures, whereas Temper Temper is flatter, and lacking. It lacks depth and the powerful elements that The Poison fans so love. We were hoping for them to bring back something like that, but this album goes a little downhill.
So this segment is called “You’ve GOT to Hear This”, and perhaps this album isn’t one you’re going to listen to after the first time or one you’ve really got to hear. But it’s one you should give a chance. Give it a listen. Listen to it the way you’d flick through a trashy magazine at the checkout while you’re waiting to pay for your groceries. It’s a disappointment for those who are fans of Bullet, but if you’re a new listener, listen to it to find what is worthy of keeping in your library. Because that’s what music discovery is all about. Finding the good pieces in the scrap heap.