Welsh outfit Bullet for My Valentine has never been a band that you would describe as being at the cutting edge of heavy music. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as the first to do something seldom end up being the best at it. But with their sixth studio album, Gravity, the quartet have completely foregone looking forward, slammed their creative gearbox into reverse and floored the accelerator.
Gravity opens with Leap of Faith’s pulsing synth-line which works well as an intro, allowing the other musical elements to gradually enter, swell the sound, and crescendo with stabs of scooped guitar. But then the synth returns for the next verse, and the one after that… Now, there’s a joke in musical circles that there is no better way to make a song sound dated than to add synth to it, and if Bullet for My Valentine shelved the synth after the album’s opening number then Leap of Faith could be chalked up to being a minor misstep, but synth is again utilised on Letting You Go, and Not Dead Yet, to make it clear that the music is full of feelings.
Letting You Go sounds Linkin Park when that group was trying to transition away from being just music for angry middle-class teens, while Piece of Me tonal cops White Pony era Deftones, and together these tracks best illustrate how Gravity sounds like a throw-back to the 2000’s. While Gravity offers a development of sorts to Bullet for My Valentine’s core sound, it is nonetheless a retrograde move. Perhaps the departure of bassist Jason James in 2015 and drummer Michael Thomas in 2016 go some way to explain this regression, but regardless of the reason, it remains clear that Bullet for My Valentine have lost their way with Gravity.