Though Bullet for My Valentine's well-received Gravity LP had only been out for about a year's time, the band's vocalist and rhythm guitarist Matt Tuck had already decided it was time to get to work on what was next.
Re-enlisting the expertise of longtime producer, Carl Brown, who co-produced the band's 2015 album, Venom, and produced and mixed Gravity, the team began fleshing out ideas, only to find themselves eventually sequestered in the wake of a global pandemic.
After some readjustment, steadying themselves in wildly turbulent state of the outside world, the band seemingly found refuge in the recording studio, reinvesting their focus into a collection of tracks that the band's lead guitarist Michael "Padge" Paget shared was, "the most ferocious side of Bullet For My Valentine that I've ever known."
While the band is hesitant to attribute the kind of organic aggression that resulted in the most recent recording session explicitly to the isolation of lockdown, the tone of the music does certainly reflect the collective sentiment of the era. Most of the world experienced a unique kind of seclusion - a separation from the social element that often provides the necessary respite to tackle everyday life - musicians were not immune.
Stop short of album number seven being coined as a pandemic record however, what did seem more plausible was the notion of writing with the stage in mind. The band seemed to tap into a amplified energy that resulted in crafting songs that were already being mindful of the performance aspect. It's like why singles like "Knives" and "Parasite" surfaced with guns blazing - a kind of go-for-the-throat approach that saw Bullet For My Valentine at their most assertive in quite some time.
Yet while that ferocity was front and center, the songwriting prowess of Bullet For My Valentine still managed to make itself apparent. Tracks like "Shatter" and the arena-ready anthem in "Rainbow Veins" balanced the unhinged assault of the previous singles with a more calculated show of force - essentially going from a barrage of punches to a well-timed, well-placed combination.
The idea of writing an album with the stage in mind seemed to be reaffirmed when the band was recruited to headline one of the first festivals coming out of the pandemic lockdown in the truncated iteration of Download, with Download Pilot. At only a fraction of the size of the typical 100,000-person draw, Bullet For My Valentine delivered a triumphant showing, providing the kind of charge fans has been stripped of for nearly two years. Furthermore, the band realized the efficacy of the new music in real time - reaffirming the arrival of Bullet 2.0.
Celebrating the release of album seven, one that earned the self-titled honor to further emphasize the pride in the collection of songs, Padge sat in to discuss the latest iteration of a band that has been a fixture in heavy rock for the better part of two decades. Sharing the headspace of the band and the forecast of what is on the horizon, Padge confides that the latest version of the band allowed the process to develop naturally resulting in a collection of songs they wanted to hear.
The band has been very clear about this self-titled album being an especially aggressive record - maybe the band’s most aggressive yet. How did the songs evolve from the first demos in 2018 to ideas fleshed out in 2020 and was that aggression amplified considering how shitty 2020 was?
Padge - When ee started to demo it was clear from the get go that this one was going to be heavy. One of the first demos became Knives and it seemed to just get heavier and more pissed off especially when the lockdowns hit. There were many writing sessions and when lockdown eased there were more at my studio also which was very productive and a whole bunch of songs were born there also.
Writing aggressive songs and performing them are two different things. Can you explain the kind of thrill that came with diving into some of the new material for shows like Download Pilot?
Padge - Download was very special but to play new songs there also was really amazing! What a perfect setting to showcase new material and they went down great. So much fun to play.
The discussion about this being Bullet 2.0 - did that way of thinking and what this album signifies about where the band is now play into why album seven is self-titled album?
Padge - I think so. Everything feels really good now in the band and we feel stronger than ever. Everybody is firing on all cylinders and it felt like the right time to release a self-titled album to us.
The band is approach two decades in the game. Given your accomplishments and accolades, how difficult is to balance the fans expectations with your own need to expand and evolve creatively when it comes to songwriting. In other words - how much of this album is for them, for you, or did you find the songs that worked for both?
Padge - We were definitely writing for ourselves on this one, I think that’s what he it’s no holds barred and just so ferocious because we were only pleasing ourselves and writing from our hearts.
“Knives” and “Parasite” were absolute bangers while “Shatter” and “Rainbow Veins” really emphasized BFMV’s ability to make a heavy song memorable. How organic was that balance and was there ever any time where you thought the record was going too much in one direction?
Padge - Everything on the album feels organic because it was. We just kept going with what felt right, and what felt natural to us. Rainbow veins was actually the most difficult one to write as it started off as a completely different type of song. But after many many hours of trying to work the old version we just scrapped the music and matt wrote a complete new song around the lyrics. Turned out super cool.
The band did mention that “Rainbow Veins” was among the favorites from the self-title track listing. What about the particular track stands out
Padge - I think it has the typical bullet formula but also dark tones and vibes all the way thru. Quite an interesting arrangement and song.
Given the kind of reception the singles have already had, do you feel like the climate is right for heavy music again?
Padge - Absolutely! I think people have a lot of negative en get that needs to be released after this last year or 2 so heavy is one way to release that energy and connect with fans.
What do you attribute to the band’s longevity? Gravity was a very pivotal record and not only did the band prove it’s resilience, but you seemed to have only grown stronger. Bands rarely last nearly two decades let alone thrive as time goes on.
Padge - Just our passion and drive to be as good as we can. We live for this band and love what we do very much. We strive for more success and hope that we get to continue to do this for many years to come.
The seventh studio album from Bullet for My Valentine is now available via Spinefarm and Search & Destroy Records. Order the self-titled album - HERE