There’s a bit of a scrap going on here, between the inner metalhead and the beret-bonced critic. With 60 years of musical cuisine to mine for ideas, Bullet For My Valentine have made fish & chips. No matter the batter is crispy, we’ve frites for chips and ketchup with chilli; no matter that it’s as tight as the dole office and louder than Heathrow; no matter that after a pair of tequilas you - yes you – will be moshing around like Animal from The Muppet Show. It’s still a straight down the line heavy metal record.
Of course, part of me is turning it up one louder and thinking isn’t heavy metal just the fuckin’ best thing, and thinking that the last thing God did on Day Six was create the riff, and that’s what brought on the day of rest. The other half of my brain is thinking, why oh why does Matt Tuck have to fall into the musical potholes of “fire” like “fiyuuurrrrrr” and “ice” like “aieeeeeessssss”.
I’m conflicted. As an album, Scream Aim Fire is powerful, well executed, brilliantly produced metal, and as such exerts a certain primal force upon my gut. My conflict is that producing such a straight-up heavy metal record in 2008 is about as imaginative as cheese sandwiches. (Though no less imaginative than the identikit Lego guitar-pop that litters Xfm.) The album opens with the two biggest cheeses, the title track and ‘Eye Of The Storm’, both retrogressive cocktails of Maiden-Metallica-Slayer, and it’s only later that the band settles down into a more modern identity, perhaps because while the music stays at the same level of energy, the singing becomes more melodic, dropping the Hetfield-isms, and moving more into Chino Moreno territory.
From what was a good, if unspectacular debut album, Bullet For My Valentine have become slicker and sharper, as you would expect from a band who’ve toured all over the world. But where you would have liked them to open a few new doors in the search to find a sound that was distinctly their own, they appear to have just piled on more Maiden, more Metallica, more Slayer, and a dash of Slipknot drumming. It’s unlikely to estrange anyone who likes them already, but I’m not sure Scream Aim Fire is going to win too many new acolytes.
6Chris Nettleton's Score