Published Aug 12, 2015The fallout from the "New Wave of (American) Heavy Metal" is still around. When the nu metal-killing strain proved successful, major labels picked up talent (or, in some cases, "talent") left and right, and while many of the wise decisions, such as Lamb of God and Killswitch Engage, are still putting out quality material, many of the labels are stuck with what's left. Which brings us to Bullet For My Valentine.
In a move that could be a nod to their debut full-length The Poison, the Welsh crew entitled their fifth LP Venom, but that's pretty well where the similarities end. The nimble infectiousness of the earlier LP is replaced by a clunking clumsiness — exhibited on "Worthless," "You Want a Battle? (Here's a War)" and the ill-advised title ballad — all too common in the metalcore offshoots that came after the initial mainstream metal revival. The closest thing to a saving grace in this mess of misplaced chugs and misguided choruses, which lack the hooks of their earlier work, comes via a thrash-metal influence reminiscent of sophomore LP Scream Aim Fire. "Army of Noise," "The Harder the Heart" and "Pariah" prove that if the group can't write hooks like they used to, at least they can pump their tunes full of menace.
Unfortunately, the lack of quality choruses leaves something to be desired. While their heaviest output won't win over any elitists, fans will also have trouble finding something here to sing along to. (Sony)