“It has been a long time coming”, the words of Matt Tuck when he takes to the stage. Today is an extra special day for Bullet for My Valentine. Not only is it the London date of the tour, but today is also the release of their self-titled seventh studio album. In the words of Tuck himself, “we’re very fucking proud of this record.”
Bullet For My Valentine, Tesseract, Bleed From Within – Hammersmith
Words: Dany Jones
Photography: Aggie Anthimidou
Tonight, the atmosphere is rather surreal. There is an air of caution for obvious reasons, including several people masked up indoors, yet there is a great longing for normality, letting one’s hair down and enjoying every minute of the show. It feels like people have been starved for a long time, and now they simply cannot have enough.
The pit is packed from the very start, and Bleed From Within are certainly the perfect choice for warming up a crowd. It is soon apparent that the Scottish quintet mean business as they unleash a blistering set from end to end, and they couldn’t have hoped for a better reception either. People chant, headbang, and the moshpits quickly form.
It is indeed exhilarating watching the audience absolutely losing it to anthems of the likes of Into Nothing, Fracture and The End of All We Know. The band cannot be faulted. They play a solid short six-song set, and they certainly do it full justice.
Next to the stage are Math Metallers Tesseract. Being the main support, they are allowed a longer nine-song set, including hits of the likes of Of Mind-Nocturne and Juno. While a degree of restrain is to be expected due to the more ethereal nature of their material, and Tourniquet is the primary example, it is rather disappointing to experience a drop in energy. Especially noticeable are the lines delivered by the frontman, in places pitchy at best.
Tesseract has always been the kind of act to take you through an absolutely mesmerising journey, always being masters of a perfect blend of atmosphere and technicality. Unfortunately, they do not quite deliver on this occasion.
But it is now time for the main act and, as Bullet For My Valentine take to the stage, order is restored. Deemed as amongst the British pioneers of Metalcore, since their inception in 1998, it is certain that the Welsh Metallers have gone full circle.
Following the initial screamo era of The Poison, the band achieved global standing selling over three million copies worldwide and earning three golds. They inevitably embraced the more commercial aspect in the years that followed.
It seems ironic that ex-drummer Michael Thomas, aka “Moose” would depart due to an alleged stagnating and compromising writing formula aimed exclusively at radio play, when years down the line, the band would release their heaviest and most technical record with the 2021 Bullet for My Valentine.
They open with a bang to the tune of their latest Parasite. Raw, brutal and simply fresh, the crowd are literally in a frenzy. The heavy loads keep on coming with Over It, which sees more moshing, fists in the air, and chants roaring, “Breathe in, breathe out.”
Visibly hyped by the experience, frontman Matt Tuck boasts with his best Welsh accent, “Fook yeah London, what is up? This is one of my favourite songs”, prior to unleashing Piece of Me.
The set is constructed in a perfect blend of old and new, tapping from all eras of the BFMV journey of over two decades, and the band do not skip a beat. The new material only brings that extra punch, and Knives is simply colossal.
The set-up is also peculiar as the risers are disposed at different heights, enabling the singer to move around and, at times, leave the centre stage to blend in with the rest of the band.
This is the fair, equal effort of four individuals and even the flawless bassist’s vocals are prominent enough to be classed as a co-lead.
The lights go momentarily out, and now Tuck takes a moment to talk to the audience. A truly special intro to Under Again, saying that if you have ever felt down, if you have battled with depression, anxiety, and feeling that you are struggling, always remember that you are not alone.
But soon, the temperature reaches fever pitch again at the tune of Scream Aim Fire and You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War).
The singer repeatedly mentions how incredibly amazing it is to be back on stage, playing live music again, after a two-year enforced hiatus, and their excitement is truly palpable. As by textbook, there had to be a couple of encores, and the band couldn’t miss playing one of their most commercial anthems Tears Don’t Fall.
Solemn and cathartic, it marks the perfect spot to wind down the evening, and it is almost time to head home and time for some reflection.
Bullet for My Valentine have certainly been dabbed of many things over the years, but despite the criticism, trials and tribulations, they have most definitely risen from the ashes standing as tall as ever. They are most definitely not done for a long time coming.
Bullet For My Valentine
Piece of Me
4 Words (To Choke Upon)
Don’t Need You
Take It Out on Me (Only Guitar Solo)
Scream Aim Fire
You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War)
The Last Fight (Acoustic Intro with Matt)
Tears Don’t Fall
Waking the Demon