With the release of Bullet For My Valentine’s sixth studio album, it seems a weight has been lifted off the Welsh-bred metal mavericks’ shoulders. Led by vocalist and guitarist Matt Tuck–otherwise affectionately known as ‘The General’ by his band mates–they’ve made a triumphant return with Gravity. “I took charge of everything again,” he says. “I had a vision of what I wanted, so I stuck to my guns and didn’t deviate.”
To understand the might and legacy of the band from Bridgend and their current frame of mind, we need to look into their celebrated past. Originally known as Jeff Killed John, Bullet For My Valentine have been luminaries of the metal/hardcore genre for almost two decades. By the time their debut album, The Poison, was released in North America on Valentine’s Day in 2006, metal fans around the world had already fallen for Tuck’s intensely powerful yet controlled vocals and intricate guitar solos that have become the band’s signature sound.
One such fan of BFMV in their early days was our own Margot Robbie, and to show their appreciation for her support at a recent performance in Saskatoon, Canada, Tuck dedicated one of their break-through singles ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ to the surprised Aussie as part of BBC’s Radio 1 Heart Rate Monitor series. “That video of the tribute has made waves globally. I think it has over one million views on YouTube,” says Tuck. “We just thought it was a really cool thing to do and her reaction to it was just incredible. It was so sweet to see her revert back to a 16-year-old metalhead, you know? So hopefully one day we will get a chance to say hello in person.”
Along with legions of fans around the world, BFMV soon started to earn high praise from peers and critics alike. They were awarded the Metal Hammer Golden Guitar Award for Best British Band in 2006 and 2010, and dominated the Kerrang! Awards for five years running. However, after a mediocre reception for 2013’s Temper Temper, the tensions that had been brewing within the four-piece reached boiling point and led to the departure of longtime bass player Jason ‘Jay’ James.
“It’s definitely a painful experience when you lose a member of a band like Jay.” says Tuck. “It’s a little bit daunting and little bit worrying.” Never one to admit defeat, The General rallied his troops and set out to win back the adoration the band had enjoyed during their heyday in the mid- 2000s. “We listened to our fans and learned a lot, and we feel like it’s finally paying off.”
2015’s Venom was a return to form for Tuck and fellow founding member Michael ‘Padge’ Paget. Bassist Jamie Mathias proved to be a welcome addition to the camp, and although saddened by drummer Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas’ decision to leave the band late last year, Tuck believes former touring member Jason Bowld has what it takes to sit behind the kit permanently. “Having these two boys involved has made the band as strong as it’s ever been, on every level. So far it’s been a really positive experience.”
Gravity marks their first album release under the Search and Destroy/ Spinefarm Records umbrella and sees a fearless BFMV elevating their sound to new heights. “It’s always nice to have a new lease on life and a fresh vibe in the studio. All our highs and lows have helped ignite our creative juices. Having new guys in the band just brought a different energy which is definitely needed in this point of our career.”
Tuck says he knew right away who he wanted to work with on this landmark release, which was recorded between international tours. “We chose a guy called Carl Brown who was the co-producer of Venom. We’ve worked with him on a lot of projects but this time around, because of the direction we wanted to take the band, we needed an injection of strength in our music production. And Carl is really up for that.
“I sat down with him and told him what I wanted the band to sound like, the direction I wanted to go, what I wanted to incorporate, and he was really on board… He was the guy for the job, and there from the very first day of writing on April 1 last year until we kind of put it to bed at the end of February this year. Carl’s been an integral part of the writing process and recording process. He’s just a very intelligent guy, super musical, super talented and he was all into making this band fresh and new, and taking us into the future.”
As for whether we will see the revitalised Bullet For My Valentine shredding on a stage near us this year remains to be seen, but Tuck did offer a small ray of hope. “I can’t give too much away because nothing is announced yet, but we’ve definitely got something brewing in the pipeline for 2018.”
Gravity is out now via Search and Destroy/Spinefarm Records.