There is a natural progression that a number of bands seem to be going through these days which leads to their music becoming more ‘mainstream’. There is a desire to look for ‘another sound’ which will undoubtedly divide their existing fan base and forms a kind of crossroads for the band in general. Gravity is that record for Bullet For My Valentine.
Following on from what was considered by many to be their best album (Venom), a very personal record, dealing with issues of depression from songwriter Matt Tuck. During the recording of that album Tuck had described issues of mental health. He no longer felt that he had a future in the music industry, there were questions about whether he wanted to be in the band at all. Motivation was a real issue for the singer and the personal struggles that he was going through seemed to bleed onto the record, which may be the reason that it resonated with so many people.
Gravity, perhaps unsurprisingly, appears to be built from a much more positive outlook on life, music and career. Although in discussions about the album artwork during interviews tuck describes the album as ‘lyrically very dark’ therefore he did not want the artwork to simply echo this. However, having listened to the album there seems to be very little in terms of ‘very dark’ lyrics. This is made even more apparent when listening to any of the band’s previous albums.
The change of approach to this album is obvious from the opening notes. Immediately you can hear the new musical direction that the band are launching themselves into. As such the mixed reception does not come as a surprise at all. There is already a great deal of debate regarding the ‘genre’ that the band would fit into – metal core and thrash being the favourites at the moment, however as you can imagine this is very much up to debate, and undoubtedly this will continue for a long time. The waters are muddied further by Gravity. Gravity cannot be said to fit into any of these categories (and barely fits into the overall category of Metal if we are being honest) and so the internet debates.
Taken in isolation however Gravity is by no means a poor album. I do find myself comparing it to Minutes to Midnight from Linkin Park in places, by no means a bad album, but certainly not one of the best. There are tracks on the album that seem to follow the established paths for BFMV more closely, such as Piece of me, however these are few and far between.
Overall the album feels like a placeholder, an experiment, a chance to stretch the legs a little, rather than a full release. I can’t help but wonder what the result would have been if the more ‘experimental’ tracks were used for an EP release and those that followed the more recognisable BFMV route were held over for the next album. There is a long time between now and their inevitable return to Download Festival (325 and a half days to be exact) so perhaps the album will grow on me by then, but I doubt it. On top of that I doubt that the open air environment of a festival will help matters. That being said I am a fan of BFMV live, so I have no doubt I will see a proper gig by them sometime soon. The jury may still be out on the long term opinion of Gravity, that being said, my initial reaction doesn’t lend itself towards a hopeful conclusion.