First things first: I am easily influenced. Tell me cheese and marshmallows work well together and I’ll put them on a pizza. Tell me that cowboy boots don’t make me look like I’ve got rickets and I’ll wear them all day long. Tell me Bullet For My Valentine’s new album is marvellous and genre-defining, and I’ll go and buy it. In all three of these instances, I should’ve brutally attacked by whoever was putting such painful and ridiculous ideas into my young impressionable mind. Okay, so that’s a little over-dramatic – ‘The Fever’ isn’t as bad as spending an evening spewing up an unholy marshmallow/cheddar combo. In fact, it’s not ‘bad’ at all – it’s a perfectly good album. The problem lies in the hype surrounding it; with five star reviews left, right and centre, it’s hard not to get sucked in and think the answer to all your metal-y prayers has arrived, emblazoned with a lobster-lady.
First and foremost, one needs to accept that the Bullet for my Valentine found on ‘The Poison’ have left town without leaving a forwarding address. Indeed, both ‘Scream Aim Fire’ and ‘Fever’ lack that raw energy and freshness that both ‘Bullet for My Valentine’ and ‘The Poison’ seemed to possess so effortlessly. Negatives aside, both the production and the technical skill on the album are damn good. But for a band of this calibre, that should go without saying. Overall, the album is pretty catchy and such tracks as ‘Pleasure and Pain’, ‘Alone’ and the title track ‘Fever’ shine when played on a live platform and are real crowd pleasers- For those of us who saw their set at Download this year, such tracks seemed to fit effortlessly into the ‘live Bullet’ canon.
Sadly, while writing the lyrics for ‘Fever’, Matt Tuck underwent a surprise lobotomy courtesy of Kid Rock and all was lost. Indeed, it is a true tragedy in the metal world. In short, the lyrics in ‘Fever’ are dire. Should any further proof of Matt’s demise be required, one only need to glance at such lyric sheets as that belonging to the only real slow/ballad track on the album- ‘A Place Where You Belong’. The music itself is fine, nothing offensive there. But when the line ‘just kill me now and let the good times roll’ is delivered, one can hear a distinct wince from the rest of the studio. While ‘Alone’ is one of my personal favourites from the album, my brain does feel a little dirty when met with a chorus of ‘you can die and rot alone’. In truth, the whole album is swimming in cliché – so much so, that any truthful or sincere sentiments have been suffocated in melodramatic mediocrity.
While some songs such as ‘Bittersweet Memories’ and ‘Dignity’ are a little too weak to justify their place on the fourth release of such a successful band, others (despite their clichéd phrases and painful rhymes) such as ‘The Last Fight’ and ‘Your Betrayal’ prove to be meaty offerings with fabulous chant-like choruses that thrill the listener whether it’s being pumped through tinny laptop speakers or massive, bowel-destroying amps. My personal favourite from ‘Fever’ is the final track, ‘Pretty on the Outside’. It’s not the longest or rowdiest on the album, but it does display a great evolution in the sound of Bullet, and seems to represent all that the album should have been. It’s powerful, technically brilliant and there are no glib lyrics to detract from the compelling, complex musicianship that these lads from Bridgend have been hiding.
The mistakes on this album were clearly made as the band became aware of their audience, and are now pandering to what they believe their fans want from Bullet. If album sales are anything to go by, then they have succeeded in pleasing the masses, but in order to create and preserve a legacy for Bullet, they need to leave this new hollow mindset, and go back to their roots – there lie four very excitable and determined Welsh lads with an immense talent that should be cherished at all costs, and not adulterated to suit the masses.