Sound — 4
"Venom" is the fifth album by long-running teenage soap opera Bullet For My Valentine. After the absolutely disastrous "Temper Temper," Matt Tuck and co. have spent all that time in between writing their new record with an aim to bring back a certain amount of aggression and a style similar to their first two records "The Poison" and "Scream Aim Fire."
They've certainly pulled off the latter, but the former must surely have been a bit of media fluff, as this album is anything but an aggressive piece. It's actually an interesting mini-history lesson listening to this album: here we have a band who were incredibly popular around the 2005-2006 era, playing mid-2000's melodic metalcore, only now, they're a 2006 band playing 2015 melodic metalcore and the biggest evolution that this band has caught up with? Yeah, that's right, MORE BREAKDOWNS.
It doesn't do much to bang on about said musical device, but considering this record is supposed to be a sign of their renewed strength, all they're doing is rehashing everything that they've done before. The songs all blend together, save one or two odd ones out, and the ever present whine of Matt Tuck's archetypal singing voice has done nothing to alleviate any outright dislike for it.
Out of the eleven tracks on this album, just three of them bring any sort of freshness in ideas to the table. "Army of Noise" is without a doubt, the best song on the album, and that's because it is entirely unlike the other tracks. It has drive, it has just the right song-writing flow and movement, the vocal performance and lyrical theme are actually not terrible and the dual solo is an exercise in good ol' by-the-book-ness. The title tracks first minute and a half is also really strong, as it evokes the same sort of feel that The Contortionist brought with their own relatively recent release "Language." It had the potential, at any rate, but it still ends up being a mid-tempo slog. And "Hell or High Water" is a slightly worse version of "Army of Noise," in that it takes a while to pick itself up. One could argue for "Pariah" to be included, but instead of generic metalcore, it's generic thrash, which is almost as egregious.
Every other piece is very much a watered down call back to "The Poison," but without any of the unhinged chagrin that gave "The Poison" a certain spice. Yeah, it's not as bad as "Temper Temper" but in the same respect, UKIP isn't quite as bad as the BNP, although both are still provably awful.
Lyrics — 5
As mentioned, Matt Tuck tries his best to ruin it for everybody (unless you're really into his vocal style, in which case, I'm sure your joy will remain un-ruined).
Said without malice, but even so, much like the definition of venom itself, his vocal performances just crowd absolutely everything in their presence until you give into the impression his vocals force upon you. It really is a case of having something stuck repeating itself forever in your head while simultaneously really, really wishing it wasn't.
Does he give a bad performance? No, it's strong on all fronts, both clean and harsh vocals. But the amount of forced conviction in his performance makes the lyrical content feel all the more repulsive.
And here we have the biggest contention anybody would have with this album (or band in general, if you're feeling petty), and that's the "I've just grown pubes, listen to me be an adult" lyrical concepts that have pervaded the band's image, history and to a lesser extent, genre since their first release. Even the album title feels like a contrivance, as if they wanted to really hammer home the idea that, yes, we're absolutely certain that we want to bring back 2005 again.
Amazingly cringe inducing lines like "Tell my why I feel like there's no way out/Trying hard to heal as the pain pours out" and other such person-centric, teenage-ego driven lines coerce an eye-rolling reaction. And honestly, the temptation to really rag on about these things is frankly embarrassing so let's move on.
Overall Impression — 4
If this album were to have been released five years ago, it would've been on the top of the game... as it sounds just as relevant to five years ago, to be honest. This album relies on throwbacks as much as an about-to-be-tackled rugby player, so much so that it really makes a person wonder how BFMV even managed to get off of the ground in the first place.
It's not the worst they've done but it's nothing close to the best, while their best was never super strong to begin with. It's an album by a band who want to bring back their old fans (who are all in their mid 20's by now surely), aiming to move away from previous failures but conversely, never aiming for anything higher.
Songs to look out for: "Army of Noise."