If you’re a Bullet fan this is going to blow your mind. Covered with all the big choruses and catchy riffs that made Bullet For My Valentine a force from inception, ‘Fever’ is constantly on a melody-heavy crusade for anthems. Always willing to provide their faithful with hooks large enough to threaten arenas, the Welsh quartet have not only kept the form, they’ve unashamedly embraced it.
Although there’s less thrash content than previous album ‘Scream Aim Fire’, the band do retain the aggression that pleased fans from that outing. Tracks such as ‘Your Betrayal’ and ‘The Last Fight’ demonstrate as much from the outset, presenting fast-paced passages before parrying the momentum into upswings of melody. Elsewhere, tracks like ‘Dignity’ and ‘Alone’ lean more towards the choruses of clean-cut epics.
Despite there being some talk that ‘Fever’ would be devoid of easy-consume ballads, both ‘A Place Where You Belong’ and ‘Bittersweet Memories’ are likely to tempt lighters aloft. While each one has the necessary touches of power that make them metallically acceptable, certainly the prior track is still a little more Whitesnake than some fans might prefer.
Signature harmonies, both guitar and vocal, have accented all Bullet For My Valentine albums inside their relatively short career. These cues are provided in sizeable volume on ‘Fever’ and are the elements that will give Bullet fans a frequently occurring reference point from which to navigate. For some they will be a necessary device, as this third full-length has virtually no trace of the band’s metalcore past. Instead a classic metal approach to structure and sensibility has become more prominent. Along with other examples, ‘Pleasure And Pain’ withholds any hardcore posturing while evoking sentimental, Iron Maiden-esque leads and tried and tested progressions.
Although the back-glance is highly commendable and provides an effective dynamic, it’s a mindset that instigates ‘Fever’’s greatest flaw. In Bullet’s quest for inoffensive giant-generating content they have provoked songs that while enjoyable are unchallenging. Though super-size hooks are infectious, they’re also incredibly predictable and there are more than a handful of moments inside ‘Fever’ where sections can be foreseen near chord-for-chord. Though unlikely to phase many followers, other listeners may have appreciated greater depth.
Perhaps working with decidedly mainstream producer Don Gilmore (Avril Lavigne, Linkin Park) has been a little transparent but the collaboration has still produced the desired results. You get the feeling that although there are fewer nods to their thrash-favouring past, Bullet For My Valentine are being more honest than ever in creating a melodically-based record that still provides moments of heavy.
While this is ultimately the same Bullet For My Valentine, the band are unavoidably more hook-centric than ever before. However, there’s still not a single track here that would create an unpleasant contrast if dropped into any previous record. ‘Fever’ is unlikely to win Bullet For My Valentine more respect amongst their peers, but this could be the album to persuade non-believers.