They've been labeled everything from metalcore – and even “the future hope of British heavy metal,” by homegrown writers – but none of those tags suits Bullet For My Valentine's (BFMV) singer-guitarist Matt Tuck, who says he didn't enter music to carry the flame for the bands that inspired him.
“We don’t look at it like ‘this is our responsibility’, we have the same ambitions as any other band and really want to be the next Iron Maiden or Metallica and that is what we have always set out to do,” asserted Tuck last fall, on the Overdrive website.
When you've achieved the success that Bullet For My Valentine enjoys – including five million albums sold worldwide, with a million in America – those results “are already flying the flag for British metal,” suggested Tuck.
This spring, the Welsh-based four-piece is preparing for a major assault on America – where it's toured with the likes of Rob Zombie, and Slipknot – with additional reinforcement from Asking Alexandria, and Cane Hill.
Tuck looks forwarding to leading that charge with guitarist Michael “Padge” Padgett, bassist Jamie Matthias, and drummer Jason Bowld.
Padgett and Tuck have been around since BFMV formed in 1998 – while Bowld is stepping in for founding drummer Michael “Moose” Thomas, who's “sitting out for a few months,” according to the band. Mathias replaced longtime bassist Jason James last fall.
“We're gonna be hitting a ton of places we couldn't get to this time around so make sure you get yourself our new BFMV App to check and see if we’re coming to a town near you,” the band stated, in its official pre-tour announcement.
The tour will continue the band's promotion of its latest album, Venom, which appeared last summer, and marks a return to BFMV's darker, heavier roots.
For Tuck – who describes himself as “a happily married man” – pulling that vision off required tapping into emotions that he hadn't felt in awhile.
“I didn't want anything fictional, uplifting or happy: not that we have done that much before, but I really wanted to turn it up a notch in the intensity levels and tap into stuff from my past that still gets me angry and fired up,” he said.
Overall, the response has been positive – starting with Kerrang!, which credited Venom with having “injected a whole new life into the British metal heroes,” its four-star review suggested.
U.S. reaction hasn't fallen far behind, with Alternative Press and the All Music Guide giving Venom 3.5 stars. The proof is in the pudding, as Tuck recently suggested to the Spotlight Report.
“It feels like something’s really connected with this record. And I think all the hard work over the last 10-12 years has built up to this moment and finally given us a Number 1 around the world, so it’s been a really good experience,” he said.
Not everyone has embraced the newly single-minded approach – which earned a three out of 10 from Exclaim!'s reviewer, who faulted Venom for a shortage of melody: “Unfortunately, the lack of quality choruses leaves something to be desired. While their heaviest output won't win over any elitists, fans will also have trouble finding something here to sing along to.”
Then again, attitude-driven titles like “Army Of Noise” and “You Want A Battle? (Here's A War)” play to the band's strengths – which is probably what longtime fans want to see, anyway, as the All Music Guide's reviewer, James Christopher Monger, suggests.
“The band's detractors will probably complain that the template remains firmly in place, and the band is aimlessly trekking through well-trodden terrain, but by returning to their roots, Bullet for My Valentine seem to have reignited the spark that made their early work so vital,” he said.
Whether the band sticks with its current approach or not, there's really just one goal that matters, as Tuck asserted to Overdrive.
“Hopefully we can be at the top of what we do for many years to come, we just want to do the best we can and keep the quality up, which is really what we are concerned about these days, more than anything else,” he said.
Live: 6:30 p.m.pFriday, May 13, Club Fever, 222 S. Michigan St., South Bend, IN (with Asking Alexandria, Cane Hill).
Tickets: $32.50 (available at the venue, through Ticketmaster, or at Orbit Music and Smokestack Brew; VIP packages also available). Must be 21 and over with ID. (574) 234-5200.