As rock group names go, Bullet For My Valentine stands pretty much head and shoulders above most everything else as one of the most appalling appellations ever, ever, ever. Somehow, however, this UK-based bunch of headbangers have managed to accrue a measure of popularity.
Is it their generic, metal-meets-emo grind that people find so appealing? Is it the miserable, whining vocals?
Who knows. But let’s face it: musically, Bullet For My Valentine has little going for it save for a degree of proficiency. Originality? Bah! They’re clearly striving to sound just like their American brethren.
I’ve included this review on the estimable Witchdoctor for one reason: it sounds awesome. So many contemporary hard rock and metal albums are ruined at the mixing stage, where all the dynamics are lost in an attempt to make the whole sound really loud. Compression is the rule of thumb, and you can hear the horrible results on any number of releases over the last few years, from Mastodon’s Crack The Sky right through to the Led Zeppelin “remaster”, Mothership. On these albums, everything’s jammed up so loud in the mix that there is no dynamic left, no genuine soft or loud, and it all sounds like nasty grating nothingness on anything other than the cheapest MP3 file or boombox.
Fever, on the other hand, has (mistakenly?) left everything joyfully uncompressed and full of grunt, with tons of bass and differentiation between guitar tones and textures. Okay, so some compression will have been applied in a multi-track recording like this, but none of the really sonically damaging jiggery-pokery that goes on at the mastering stage.
This is that rare example of a modern metal album that sounds great. Just a pity it’s not a great record, but for metal fans, it certainly makes enough of the right noises to bang heads to. GARY STEEL