Sound — 10
Bullet For My Valentine are a metalcore group from Wales. They're instantly recognisable by the familiar combination of harsh vocals (which sound amazing) and clean lines, which also sound really damn good. Musically, BFMV have a fair amount of pinch harmonics heard throughout the album, as well as a few double bass pedal fills on the drums. As with all metalcore, the bass guitar is pretty much inaudible in most of the songs (you can hear its presence but not actually what its playing), but the bass does make a small appearance in songs such as The End. The album 'The Poison' is Bullet's first full-length album, their previous release being a self-titled EP, with five tracks on (including Cries In Vain, a track on this album). It has 13 tracks (detailed later in the review), and in total spanning 53:32. If you're of the mp3 player age, this translates to roughly 43MB at 128kbps. Regardless, the release is a good solid work and I strongly recommend it to you.
Lyrics — 10
Bullet For My Valentine's lyrics are seen as highly influential to both other bands and to the listeners. I honestly think that there is not a single line in a BFMV song that a fan has not used for their MySpace name or MSN screen name (etc). The lyrics' themes are pretty standard for metalcore, being centred around anger and sorrow. To be honest, when you're listening to the songs, you're not really paying attention to the meaning of the lyrics. However, when you look them up, you think to yourself, 'F--k, that's good' (especially for songs like The End). Obviously, the lyrics flow perfectly with the music. You won't find any singing about anything other than the set templates. While some people find this boring and unoriginal, I find it quite the opposite, since there's so much more work involved in writing new material that hasn't already been released. Matt Tuck is a very accomplished singer. He's also the lead guitarist of the band, and even adept guitarists would find singing and playing Bullet at the same time difficult. It's not like you can hear lapses in concentration either way - Matt's singing is flawless, being very impacting (both in heavy songs like Hit The Floor and in more mellow songs like The End). He's a bloody good guitarist too, some of his solos are on par with guitarists like Kirk Hammett from Metallica.
Overall Impression — 10
If anything, Bullet stand head-and-shoulders above the other artists in the metalcore genre. When they played live at Kerrang! XXV in Brixton, they pretty much stole the show, being both amazing playing-wise and stage-wise (nothing beats a load of fireworks as soon as they come on and launch into Hand Of Blood). The songs from the album are as follows: 01. Intro - the intro is an instrumental, as are a fair few intros on metalcore albums. It's a pretty sombre melody with a leading guitar playing a soft solo over the top. It's got the highest note in the whole album, so high that the guy sitting beside me on the bus asked me why I was listening to such high notes (wierdo). Anyway, it's a great introduction to the album, especially as it closes nice and softly right at the end to pave the way for the next track. 02. Her Voice Resides - I love the way this starts. The first time I heard it, I jumped because it starts at full volume with Matt Tuck roaring down the mic. The breakdown is also really good (get used to this phrase, I'll probably be saying it a lot), especially due to the clean vocals used; they really emphasise the theme being portrayed. A great first 'real' track on the album, it's not one of my favourites but I can see why people like it as much as they do. The solo's quite catchy too. 03. Four Words (To Choke Upon) - I'm not sure what's up with the intro to this track, but meh, it's there, what can you do about it. I really like this track when it gets started; reminds me of Atreyu for some reason. I especially like the way the song alternates between harsh and clean vocals in the verse, it really makes the song sound good. The chorus is also pretty good to sing along to, and the solo sounds really good (and it's easy to play on guitar too). Interestingly, when you take out the silly introduction, the song's only 3:12 in length. It honestly sounds like it's about 4 minutes long, but it's a 4 minutes well spent. I also seem to recall this being the first track Bullet ever wrote. It's a beast of a song, that's for sure. 04. Tears Don't Fall - this song is a nice mix of heavy riffs and nice soft melodies too. It starts off with a clean intro, and then progresses to a heavy interlude. The verse returns to clean (I love it), and then the pre-chorus is somewhere in the middle. The chorus goes to heavy (but with clean vocals), and then repeats. When the song develops around the pre-solo, it gets pretty heavy, but after the (noticeably fast) solo, it goes back to the clean again. This song also has a coda; why, I'm not sure, but it's a pretty nice little finishing touch to the piece. In the spirit of 4 words, this song doesn't sound like it's nearly 6 minutes long. Because it develops at around 3 minutes (where you'd expect it to be getting ready to breakdown and end), it sort-of 'tricks' your mind into thinking less time has passed. As a result, I always think this song is about the same length as 4 words, and by catching me off guard I'd probably get the two song times muddled up. 05. Suffocating Under Words Of Sorrow (What Can I Do) - I like this song. I really, really do. I like the way it starts heavy and then you get a little clean bit. This song's also very sing-along-able, especially during the clean bits (I told you so). I love the bit at around 1:43, when the little solo-ey interlude comes in. The lead sounds good, and I love the way the backing guitar and drums 'chug' along in time to it. I remember this song being played live, I kid you not, the whole crowd was headbanging in time to it. It's just a really amazing song. 06. Hit The Floor - two amazing songs in a row. What more could you ask for? I really love the sort of semi-harmonic thing Bullet use in the intro, it sounds damn good. The clean verse is a breakdown in itself, and it sounds great too. The chorus mutes everything except a guitar playing in unison to the vocals, and it sounds pretty damn good. It's also a mosh-ey sort of song, and the verses are so memoreable and catchy that you may find yourself singing them randomly when you're doing something. I sort of wish this song were longer, so there would be more to enjoy. 07. All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me) - a mostly-acoustic song following up one of the heaviest tracks on the record. This song's quite mellow (apart from the chorus and development), and I like that. Interestingly, Bullet sound a little off-tone in this song. Skip to about 1:49, and you can hear a little pitch bend which shouldn't be there. Go along further to 2:42, and you can hear that the chord that is repeated is definetely off-tone to the rest of the piece (you might need to skip back a bit first to understand what I mean). This is the only track this happens on, but it's still a good piece regardless. 08. Room 409 - this piece confuses me. I like the intro/verse guitar riff, but I don't like it. There's just one part of it which I don't like, and the rest is cool. This song isn't one of my favourites, but it's alright anyway. I'm guessing it's because of the lack of clean vocals (there're significantly less in this song than in the others), and it shows - I regard this track as just filler material. 09. Poison - title track from the new album, it's pretty good as a track, but I don't think it's as impacting as tracks like Suffocating Under Words Of Sorrow or Hit The Floor. While yes, the guitar in this song has some of the most complicated riffs and fills in the whole album, I just find the track too tedious. I tend to get bored and change tracks at around 2:26. A decent track anyway, though. 10. 10 Years Today - I see what Bullet did there. Track 10 is called *Ten* Years Today. How funny. Anyway, this track's another confusing one. I like the vocals in this track, but I don't like the verse backing. It just sounds a bit sloppy. It's another thing that's too hard to put my finger on. Other than that, it's got a pretty good chorus, and development. Nothing remarkable, however, that was all achieved in the earlier tracks on the album. 11. Cries In Vain - this track's also found on the self-titled EP, released a while before The Poison. Anyway, it's a pretty good track off the record, but it blows you away when played live. It's got a lot of potential, with bits that Matt can involve the audience in. I like the breakdown where it's just Matt singing (you can feel the bass's presence but it just doesn't do anything except make the floor vibrate). 12. Spit You Out - like the previous track, Spit You Out is a track made for live playing. It even has a little interlude somewhere in it, where you can hear Matt say 'Bullet For My Valentine' to a crowd, who cheer in return. Song-wise, it's a pretty decent song, your average The Poison release. The chorus stands out from the rest of the song though, particularly because it combines harsh and clean vocals in one line of the chorus. The post-chorus is also pretty cool; you can actually hear the bass in this track! It makes an appearance at 3:09, where Matt talks to a crowd. Good song. 13. The End - I really like this piece. It's a great way to end the record. The piece is pretty mellow and depressing, but it really stands out. Since the guitar riff is simple (but goes well with the lyrics), Matt can really concentrate on putting emotion into his voice. By God, they should do this more often. You can really feel the emotion Matt sings, especially in the cleaner parts of the song. Around about halfway, the song starts to get heavier, but returns to the standard intro/verse riff again, but using it as an outro. Matt, this time, since he is not singing, is playing a soft solo over the riff, and the song fades out in this style. This is perhaps the most striking song on the record, particularly if you've had any of the experiences Matt sings about in the piece. Damn, it's a good song. My personal favourite from the album. Personally, I find the songs Four Words, Suffocating Under Words Of Sorrow, Hit The Floor, and The End my favourite tracks. Four Words, Suffocating Under... and Hit The Floor are just really good, fast songs, and The End is really influential for me because I can relate to it. However, I find Room 409, Poison, 10 Years Today, and Spit You Out to be quite mediocre when compared to the rest of the album (they're good songs nonetheless). Honestly, I really cannot put my finger on exactly why, but I just don't listen to them as much as the rest of the album (if they come on and I'm alert, I'll skip them). However, when I'm not paying attention I can sail through them while enjoying them as much as the other tracks on the album. Overall, the album's a damn good release. I'm solidly looking forward to Bullet's next album, and I'm definetely going to pick it up on release. If the album disappeared, I'd certainly get it again, I listen to BFMV nearly every day.