Release Date: June 29, 2018
Bullet For My Valentine frontman Matt Tuck said back in April that their next album would “take a lot of people by surprise by the way it sounds.” And he was right. Their sixth album finds them moving in a different, more mainstream direction. Their blend of heavy metal, melodic hooks, and killer riffs always made their music exciting. Unfortunately, none of that excitement is found here as they move into well-known and worn out direction.
Things kick off on a promising note with “Leap of Faith.” The pummeling drums and explosion of noise that follows when Tuck sings “do or die” instantly grabs your attention. It’s not as intense or heavy as their past work, but still has this great energy that pumps you up. It sounds the most like classic Bullet and will appeal to longtime fans, but they’ll quickly note the lack of killer solos. It’s one of the biggest changes as few of the songs feature any stellar guitar work. It doesn’t make or break the album, but it’s weird to have it absent since it’s so integral to their sound. Still, this is one of the few memorable songs on the record.
Bullet has been around for over 10 years, so it makes sense that they want to shake things up. That’s not the problem. The problem is how generic everything sounds. “Over It” features typical hard rock crunching music and bland lyrics. It can easily be mistaken for any other rock band. “Not Dead Yet” and “Under Again” have the same problem. The music is okay yet sounds similar to the rest of the LP and there’s nothing special about the lyrics. “Gravity” seems promising with its rapid-fire music and powerful gang vocals, but ultimately falls flat. None of these songs leave a lasting impact. Their new direction is one you already hear from bands like Asking Alexandria or Bring Me the Horizon. It’s not exciting.
The band gets close to creating a pop song on “The Very Last Time.” Featuring muted synth beats and compressed sounds, it’s more akin to 30 Seconds to Mars than Bullet For My Valentine. It definitely throws you for a loop when you first hear it. To make it even worse, it’s boring. It sounds like so many of their other lackluster ballads. It’s great that they want to experiment, but it just doesn’t work on this track. If they want to change their sound, at least make it interesting.
Luckily, there are some stand out songs, though they still don’t match their best work. “Letting You Go” is a hard driving track with all the energy and aggression of classic Bullet. Tuck has a knack for writing catchy hooks and this one’s no different. After hearing “First you wanna hate me, then you wanna love me/This how I’m feeling/I’m just letting you know” it’ll get stuck in your head for days. “Piece Of Me” is another memorable track. It comes at you full force with pummeling music and Tuck screaming “Tell me why I should give a fuck!” It may be a bit angsty, but the way everything explodes is so satisfying and makes you want to mosh. It’s probably the hardest and heaviest track on the album.
“Don’t Need You,” is also stellar, but a weird inclusion since it was first released in 2016. Including it on this album shows just how different Bullet’s new sound is. Listening to it here, you can tell this track was written during a different era of the band. It’s heavy, hard-hitting, brutal, and gets your blood pumping – few of the songs on Gravity do this. If anything, it makes you miss their old sound. It just doesn’t fit here and would’ve been better off as a bonus track.
It’s clear the closing track “Breathe Underwater” comes from a source of pain. In a recent interview, Tuck revealed his bouts of depression and the breakup of his relationship. That all comes through on this song. The lyrics talk about a broken relationship and feeling lost that someone you once loved is no longer there. Still, just like the other tracks, this one isn’t all that interesting. It’s a typical ballad that doesn’t hold your attention for very long. Though it comes from a personal place, it’s pretty unmemorable.
Gravity is a disappointment. The album isn’t terrible, but it finds them sounding like popular bands on the radio. Similar to 2013’s Temper Temper, it’s mediocre. The songs don’t stick with you; they’re okay at best. It’s not as exciting or memorable as past albums. The sound is more accessible making it easier for the mainstream to consume, which Tuck seems to want. In an interview, he mentions how he wants to find major success in North America. This may be the album to do it. But the radio-friendly sound isn’t what makes the album bad. It’s the uninspired, dull, generic songs themselves. Aside from a few stand out tracks, the record is, unfortunately, unremarkable.
Leap of Faith
Letting You Go
Not Dead Yet
The Very Last Time
Piece of Me
Don’t Need You