A friend of mine always used to say: “you can’t fight city hall”. Meaning, eventually you can’t find what drives you the most. 2013’s Temper Temper was an effort from Bullet For My Valentine that was met with mixed feelings from fans. Perhaps it was a bit too polished. What initially made the band stand out was their grit and aggressiveness. Sometimes, you have to revisit where you started to get the fire back. Venom is a new album, but let me put it this way: if 2005’s The Poison and Venom were a combination, Venom would be the follow up, overhand right. It’s as if both albums can be played back to back coherently. Some may consider it a bad thing for the sake of progression, but fans will be happy to hear that the heart is back. After listening to Venom, it seems more of a statement. Many of their contemporaries are seeking to move beyond the sounds that landed them in your musical apparatuses. It’s a natural progression after all. Lives change and the band grows older. BFMV are seeking to erase that notion with a “back to the roots” album.
I think the issue with Venom, if there is one, is due to it’s predecessor. The Poison is so memorable (especially with songs like “Tears Don’t Fall”) that when a band makes a defining album in their catalog, it’s hard not to venture back to it. Even with ten years passed, many up-and-coming bands have tried to duplicate that song. Venom, at its core, is a runaway train of energy. Starting right off from the opening track “No Way Out”, it sets the tone for the relentless pummel to come. “Army of Noise” is also a strong song and probably one of the best guitar solo performances within the BFMV discography. The album as a whole showcases with what one would identify the band: dueling guitar solos by Matthew Tuck and Michael Padget and clean/unclean vocals. Drummer Michael Thomas gives a frantic, yet posed performance on the percussion side.
The thing about Venom is that it rarely deviates from the script, which is a two-sided coin. The title track does attempt to slow things down a bit, but once again, the songs that came before it (“Tears Don’t Fall” parts one and two) put a damper on it. It may have been preferred that the band continue on the relentless route for the entire album because it’s what fit the most. A lot of the album fits into the same box. “You Want A Battle” brings in a gang vocalized technique which may make it one of the most accessible songs from Venom. The last tracks, “Pariah” and “Playing God”, seem to be a product of a big jam session from the band’s members; poised to show off their intricate prowess instrumentally. Most of the themes of the album are centered around confronting oneself and issues from a relationship standpoint. Tuck’s voice has stayed considerably strong and even through growing older, we would feel that things would change from a theme standpoint.
Venom is not “The Poison 2.0“, it’s a different entity with familiar themes and tones. Sometimes, I’m reluctant for bands to take the Wayback Machine and revisit their older songs. The album freshens up the angst a bit which is a welcome return, but one has to wonder where you go from here.