Sound — 8
Bullet For My Valentine has always had a fairly strong sense of melody within its past work, but the Welsh band's latest album Fever does seem to place more emphasis on that side than ever before. As a band that has been greatly inspired by classic metal artists like Metallica and Iron Maiden, the quartet hasn't completely abandoned its heavier roots. There is plenty of skillful guitar work to be found among the 11 tracks, and while impressive, those moments are actually overshadowed by the clean vocal parts during the choruses. Fever doesn't deliver any huge surprises in the end, but it does show that BFMV isn't afraid to show its sensitive side.
The CD opens with Your Betrayal, an incredibly catchy, standout tune that remains fairly consistent with BFMV's past work. There is a back-and-forth approach in the chorus in terms of screaming/singing, and the general format of the song could be considered trademark BFMV. Accentuated by militaristic drum beats and energetic strumming, Your Betrayal is a solid choice to kick off the record. The title track is one of the heaviest on the album, and it makes you wish that the band would have delved a bit more into more of a straightforward metal sound for the entire album. Sure, there are riffs galore to be had on the album, but Fever has an angrier approach altogether that works extremely well. Between the pinch harmonics, the in-your-face (but clean) delivery from Matt Tuck, and an overall fresh approach to songwriting, Fever is the best offering on the album.
For all of the riff lovers out there that eagerly await what Tuck and Michael Paget's latest guitar mastery, you should be pretty fulfilled with Fever. It's jam-packed with a feast of skillful leads that range from your general Maiden-worthy licks to classically inspired material (The Last Fight), and those elements do elevate the album. The verdict is still out if BFMV is truly metal, as many of their tracks do have a pop sensibility underneath the core songwriting. That's not to say that Fever is devoid of low-end, grinding riffage, but a ballad like A Place Where You Belong could easily be heard on a good deal of radio stations. In general, Fever doesn't feature songs that venture too far out of the band's comfort zone, but again, it's a feast for the ears if you enjoy hearing various guitar techniques.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrical content on Fever is pretty standard rock material, with a good deal involving emotions/relationships. Whether it involves reflection on one's own flaws in Begging For Mercy (Please forgive me; I don't know what I'm doing; Someone help me) or being torn over a dying affair in Your Betrayal (My heart is pounding as I say goodbye; So now I dance in the flames; I love you crying and screaming my name), the lyrics come from heartfelt emotions that a broad audience should relate with even if they've heard the themes before.
Overall Impression — 7
To BFMV's credit, the band isn't afraid to pull out an acoustic if it's for the good of a song. While Tuck and Paget certainly make an effort to pepper the faster tempos with insanely impressive guitar work, songs like A Place Where You Belong and Bittersweet Memories certainly showcase a mellower side that revolves around a strong base melody. Of course, songs like that also push them away from some metal purists, but at this point BFMV has probably realized that you can't please everyone all the time.