When it came time to record its third album, Bullet for My Valentine wasn't content to rest on its already impressive laurels. While its second album, 2008's "Scream Aim Fire," debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than a million copies worldwide, went gold in the UK and Canada, the Welsh metal band mates had a fire in their collective belly to push themselves beyond what they'd ever accomplished.
Declaring themselves "hungry" to create again, the band set about to create "a hard rock, dark album with metal flashes," says lead singer/guitarist Matthew Tuck. "We really wanted it to excel beyond anything we've done musically before."
If the ferocious results on the group's third Jive album, "Fever," are any indication, the band has far exceeded its own rigorous expectations. Bullet for My Valentine, which also includes drummer Michael "Moose" Thomas, guitarist Padge and bassist Jason "Jay" James, has simultaneously made its most melodic yet raucous, relentless collection yet.
Indeed, "Fever's" muscular riffs threaten to overpower the listener with their sheer unending intensity. Tuck's lacerating vocals, once compromised by debilitating, possibly career-ending throat problems, are stronger than ever.
For "Fever" the idea was "to keep it simple," says drummer Thomas, and focus on the steak, not the sizzle. "It's really tempting to kind of push your limits and try to play a thousand miles an hour. But there's really no need for it. This album is powerful, more than just speedy."
The group, named by metal magazine Kerrang! as Best British Band in both 2008 and 2009, formed 10 years ago in their Welsh hometown of Bridgend. After gigging around and honing their considerable live chops for years, the band signed with Sony in 2004; in the U.S., the band's music is released by Sony label Jive. "The Poison," released, appropriately enough on Valentine's Day in the U.S. in 2006, has been certified gold in the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany and Canada. The band quickly became a major draw known for its ceaselessly frenetic live shows.
While still on tour supporting "Scream," Bullet for My Valentine began writing music for "Fever" in early 2009 in Wales. So great was their desire to create something beyond their previous efforts that the foursome retreated to a studio in Lincolnshire, England to get away from everything—home, family and friends—and concentrate solely on writing. "We just needed to be in our own space so we had no distractions," Thomas recalls. "It was Bullet for My Valentine 24 hours a day."
For "Fever," the band recruited producer Don Gilmore, best known for his work with Linkin Park and Good Charlotte. "He was confident that he could take us to the next level," Tuck says. "He identified the strong points and the weak points. Because we kind of knew we were on the right track, we just needed him to keep us on the right track and push us hard and make it work."
After the initial music was written, Tuck and Gilmore holed up in the studio to craft the lyrics and melodies, locking out everyone including the rest of the band. The separation was hard for Tuck's band mates, but all was understood once they started hearing the amazing results. "We just left them alone," Thomas says. "When there's a lot of people in the room, it just gets messy. If there are just two people in the room, they can just bounce off each other rather than everyone shouting opinions. It just made life a lot easier for those two."
Gilmore shoved Tuck harder than he'd ever been pushed before. "Previously, I'd just write lyrics and melody and if it sounds good and feels good, it stays," Tuck says, "but he made me write it again and change melodies until it was amazing. And that was a difference. I was just settling in the past."
Every drop of sweat is captured on "Fever." The blistering first single "Your Betrayal" scorches the earth with its searing instrumental opening and bitter words of mistrust. "The song is about being betrayed and then obsessing about it and wanting revenge and payback for what's happened to that person," Tuck says, noting the lyrics mark a return to the "super dark" tone of "The Poison."
The group also tackles drug addiction and how those around the addict often suffer just as much on "The Last Fight." "People think the person who has the addiction is the victim; no one ever thinks about the people who are helping them and trying to get them out and then are being pushed aside," Tuck says. "So 'The Last Fight' is about how it's your last chance, I keep trying to help you and you keep trying to push me away. This is the last fight I'm going to do for you."
The band isn't afraid to turn tender on the sobering "A Place Where You Belong," a sad, sorrowful tale about unresolved issues. "You don't get a chance to make amends before someone passes away, you don't see someone again and you have to live with that," Tuck says. "It's kind of taken from me and my girlfriend; we split up a year ago." He clarifies that his girlfriend did not die. "None of the stuff we do is that biographical," Tuck says. "I'll take certain things and turn them into something else just because I think it's more interesting."
Things lighten up on the saucy title track which tackles the time-honored tradition of hot girl meets boy, or boys, in the band and, well, you know the rest of the story. "It's the kind of song we've never done," Tuck says. "The song is just party rock and roll. It's such a boy's song. The boys are back on the road."
Speaking of the road, Bullet for My Valentine, renowned for its energetic live shows, can't wait to bring "Fever's" music alive on tour. "I love the buzz and energy of the crowd," Tuck says. "It's such a mad feeling."
For Bullet for my Valentine, they want fans to feel about "Fever" the way the music from their musical heroes made them feel.
"'Fever' sounds like something that if I were 16 and getting into rock music, I would just be going nuts and wanting to be in a band, just like Metallica did for me," Tuck says. "It's just so timeless and real. There's nothing fake about what we do."