Sound — 9
The album as a whole sounds fantastic. The mixing is great and not super compressed, with each song sounding like they belong together in this album. I feel it was a much needed step up from the previous "Temper Temper" which felt more raw and unpolished (not a bad thing, but didn't do the band any justice).
Instrumentally, it's a big of a mixed bag. One thing I loved from previous Bullet for My Valentine entries is how instruments were complicated enough to grab your attention, but not too much so to be fighting with the vocals - that unfortunately is here, but not all the time. With less riffing, and more generic "chug chug chug," it left me a little disappointed. Not all is bad though, it was handled tastefully enough not to be boring and sound like every other metalcore band.
The most standout section (instrumentally) for me was from 3:22 to 3:59 in Hell or High Water. This is one of the points in the album that makes you think "Wow, they really tried to bring the first 2 albums out again." A fast, aggressive, harmonized riff that was one of the reasons to make me enjoy this band so much since "The Poison." Another, is the final 6 seconds of "Playing God" - it was such a perfect way to close the song. It gave me vibes of the outro from "Watching Us Die Tonight" (one of my favorite songs by them).
Matt's vocals sound on point. It's a little hit and miss for people, but for me, I really do enjoy his voice. It's definitely a sound that stands out from the more feminine sounding voices in the genre. And guess what, he screams again. Matt's always had (in my opinion) some of the best fry screams in the genre - and yes I love all the other vocalists you're probably screaming through your monitors at me right now, but out of them all, Matt (somehow) is my favorite.
My one pet peeve of the "sound" comes from the deluxe edition. It contains a demo song called "In Loving Memory" that instrumentally carries something of the very best stuff on the album, it was a shame that it was just a demo and not a full proper mix. The guitar solo as well is (by far) the best "Venom" has to offer. If this was a song with a full mix, and part of the main album, I feel like it would get a lot more positive reviews.
Lyrics — 6
Lyrics... This is the definitely low point of the album. Matt has never really struck me as a super deep writer, and that's okay, but the lyrical content in this album is sub par - at best! He falls into the usual habits of 2 main ideas:
1. Singing about some form of heatrbreak or betrayal.
2. Singing about standing up for yourself.
Which yes, do make for good songs, but when they're literally back to back, it gets a bit uninteresting. The most cringe worthy part of the lyrics in this album (for me) is during Broken. The line "I don't wanna hate, or live with my regrets." That lyric is broken apart musically exactly where the comma is in that quote, because of this, the "live with my regrets" just seems to come out of nowhere and contain no flow or connection to the previous lyric.
But thankfully it's not all so negative. There are some memorable lines that make you appreciate what Matt's truly capable of. For example - "No one can stop us, we're taking back control. Now we're playing god!" Although a simple line, I enjoy it, it works with the melody and song perfectly. As well as the chorus line of "It starts, out of fantasy. It turns, into misery. I'll be your pariah, take it out on me." from "Pariah," and "I wish that I could tell you so you know, that sins are hiding deep beneath my skin" from "Skin."
Lyrically these are the lines that stand out to me on this album, but (sadly) 75% of the lyrics on this album are super generic filler that probably sat in the back of his lyric book from high school.
Overall Impression — 8
If you're one of the OG Bullet for My Valentine fans who only enjoy the first album, there really might be something here for you to enjoy. It's got so many similarities to "The Poison" that brings back the nostalgia, but it's different enough from the originals, that it doesn't feel like a desperate attempt to find the sound that got them to where they are in the first place.
If you're a super fan though and have enjoyed every album through, then you'll definitely love this. Myself, I bought this album right from release, and have listened to it dozens of times before it was time to find something new to listen to, but I do not at all regret the large amount of time I spent listening to "Venom."