Tag Archives: Bullet For My Valentine

Download 2018: The Rock Festival That Sets The Standard For All Others

This time last week I was driving home from Download Festival 2018 reflecting on a weekend of great music, and on the funeral of my 35-year-old nephew who was to be cremated just two days later.

There is something about Download.  Few would argue that Donington Park in Leicestershire has become the spiritual home of rock music.  The place reeks of history, name a great rock band and the chances are that they have played Download.  The atmosphere is fantastic, a mixture of fun, craziness, and a love of music that binds the many thousands of fans together.

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room: Guns N’ Roses.  Hands up, I have never been a huge fan, Axl Roses’ reputation for being a total twat prevented me from really connecting with their music.  As soon as it was announced that Guns N’ Roses were reuniting for a tour, it was obvious that a headline slot for Download was inevitable.  I think I was more excited about this show than for any band I have ever seen.

 

So what did we get? Well Guns N’ Roses certainly didn’t shortchange the biggest crowd I have ever seen at Download.  They played a set of 28 songs in a show that lasted close to 3.5 hours.  The band even took the stage two minutes early!  What followed was a masterclass in how to delve into a large back catalog to create an interesting and varied setlist.  Of course, the old favorites like Paradise City, Mr. Brownstone, and Sweet Child O’ Mine were present, so too the famous covers like Live and Let Die, and Knockin on Heavens Door.  In fact, we had a total of nine covers in the set with songs by Soundgarden, The Who, and Pink Floyd getting an outing.

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This was rock royalty in every sense of the word.  So how was the show?

In truth, I thought it was a mixed bag.  Despite the huge numbers in attendance Axl Rose didn’t really interact with the crowd, at least over the course of the first two hours.  I felt that the atmosphere was strangely flat, though I wasn’t in the middle of the massive crowd.  Guns N Roses followed Black Stone Cherry, Thunder, The Temperance Movement, The Struts and Monster Truck on the main stage lineup.  I missed The Temperance Movement, but each of the other bands whipped the crowd into a frenzy, so I think Axl’s more aloof persona added to my feeling that things were a bit flat.

Axl sounded great.  I think he struggled to hit the notes on some of the songs, my friends disagreed. I must admit that I was a little taken aback to see Axl Rose make more costume changes than Beyonce!  Slash was a little self-indulgent at times but the band was as tight as a camels backside in a sandstorm.  Overall, I am thrilled that I finally got to see Guns N’ Roses.

I must mention The Struts and Thunder because for very different reasons they both blew me away.  Thunder passed me by first time around, and they last played at Donington in 1990.  They were just fabulous.  Good old-fashioned headbanging rock music that had the crowd bouncing for their entire set.  Definitely one of the highlights of a brilliant weekend for me.

I last saw The Struts at Reading a couple of years ago and I did wonder how they would go down with an audience of metalheads.  The answer, they went down a storm.  Struts frontman Luke Spiller, could be the love child of Freddie Mercury and Justin Hawkins from The Darkness.  He has that same flamboyance, the outrageous styling, and boy can he work a crowd.

My favorite moments on Friday’s line up came on the Avalanche stage, this year hosted and curated by Kerrang Radio.  Stray From The Path and Stick To Your Guns absolutely shredded the huge tent.  I simply don’t understand why both of these bands are not bigger than they are.  The sheer rawness and energy blow me away every time I see them.

Over on the main stage, Bullet For My Valentine and Avenged Sevenfold were simply brilliant.  BFMV have a new album in the offing and I talked about it with Matt and Jason before the show, watch out for that in the next few days.  Avenged Sevenfold always turn in a great show, and this was no exception.  They are worthy headliners for Download and are always worth watching.

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If I’m honest I found the Sunday lineup at this year’s Download a little uninspiring.  Of course many will disagree, but Marilyn Manson and Ozzy Osborne on the main stage just wasn’t my cup of tea.  Manson’s stage persona and music have never really connected with me, and I was so disappointed with Ozzy’s performance with Black Sabbath at 2016’s “Drownload,” that I decided to give his show a miss for fear of tarnishing the memory of a true icon in metal music.

That left me free to wander and to just soak up the festival vibe.  The evergreen Rise Against and the rapidly improving Milk Teeth were my highlights of the day.  Across a brilliant weekend of rock music, and aside from the frankly ridiculous prices for merchandise, food, and drink at this year’s Download, my one lowlight also came on Sunday.

I wandered past the Zippo stage to check out Body Count Featuring Ice T.  I really like bands like Enter Shikari who are adding elements of Rap and Hip Hop into rock music, Truth be told I quite enjoyed Body Count’s music.  What I didn’t like was Ice T bringing a two-year-old girl onto the stage and telling her that “if anyone ever fucks with you, tell them your uncle Ice will shoot them in the fucking face.”

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Whilst I welcome the positive influences different musical genres can bring to the world of rock, you can keep the negative influences so often associated with Rap and Hip Hop.  You can keep the misogyny, the allusion to gun violence and all the negativity to yourself thanks.

Finally, even the weather cooperated to make Download 2018 a memorable occasion.  A dry weekend makes for a much more enjoyable festival, same again next year please Mr. Copping.

 

 

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Bullet For My Valentine Bournemouth

Bullet For My Valentine – O2 Academy Bournemouth -live review

There was a time not that long ago when we thought that Bullet For My Valentine were going to kick on to become one of the most important rock bands on the planet.  Described variously as hard rock, heavy metal or metal core, this was a band who were Kerrang’s best British Band three times and who won the best live band award in 2010.  Their 2008 album Scream Aim Fire was an absolute monster of an album, 2010’s Fever didn’t quite hit the heights of its predecessor.

Then what happened?  Well frankly Bullet For My Valentine lost focus, drifted into side projects and in 2013 pushed out Temper Temper an album that even die-hard fans would accept was at best mediocre.  Fast forward to 2015 and Bullet For My Valentine are back with a new offering – Venom.  The question is does Venom mark a return to form or is this the poison that will send them to the hidden hell of rock obscurity?

Venom has been getting a lot of play on my iPod since it’s release and in all honesty I have grown to love it.  It is a strong all round album with a selection of great tracks and is undoubtably a return to form for Bullet For My Valentine.  The truth, as with any album, is most like to reveal itself in the live arena and the opportunity to catch the band arose last week at Bournemouth’s O2 Academy, a small venue where even from the back you can see the whites of the bands eyes.

Bullet For My Valentine - Bournemouth

Bullet For My Valentine

The undercard for this Bullet For My Valentine is superb.  Admittedly I had not come across Japanese rock band  Cold Rain before but they were hugely energetic with their riff laden heavy rock.  Judging by the number of Cold Rain T-Shirts that were in evidence by the end of the gig I wasn’t the only one who was impressed.

Next up was Sheffield Metalcore outfit While She Sleeps.  I caught their set at Reading Festival back in August so I was looking forward to seeing them again in a more intimate environment.  These guys won Kerrang’s “Best Newcomer” award in 2012 and it is not hard to see why.  Front-man Lawrence Taylor is a tour-de-force as he snarls and screams his way through their set.  He is soon shirtless and crowd surfing and While She Sleeps went down extremely well with both me and the entire audience.

While She Sleeps may have been understudies on this occasion but are surely destined for bigger and better things.  I certainly expect to see them at Download festival come June 2016.

So on to the main event Bullet For My Valentine arrived on-stage at 9.30 and played a 16 song set that wrapped up at just before 11pm.  Those who read my regular musings will know that I have been getting increasingly pissed off by headline bands who are shortchanging fans by playing a set of barely 60 minutes.  Far too many bands are doing this so it was refreshing to see Bullet play for 90 minutes.

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Bullet For My Valentine

Matt Tuck was in great voice throughout the set as he and lead guitarist Mike Paget hammered out riff heavy guitar including some nice solo work from both guitarists.  Bass player Jamie has brought a lot to BFMV’s sound, especially vocally.  He adds a real edge and depth to  lyrics with his “screamo” style.  It says a lot about Bullet For My Valentine’s maturity as a band that they played tracks from all of their albums except for the badly received failure that was Temper Temper.  

We were treated to a total of five tracks from Venom though my favourite track “Pariah” did not get an outing.  The set was well constructed and it was perhaps a sign of the bands growing confidence that the crowd were offered a choice between “The Poison” and “Suffocating Under Words Of Sorrow.”

On this performance it is clear that Venom does mark a return to form for Bullet For My Valentine.  “No Way Out” and “You Want A Battle” and “Army Of Noise” pack serious punch live, they are heavy, meaty and aggressive, played with both energy and pace.  The crowd clearly enjoyed the show as the mosh pit throbbed with energy and enthusiasm and there were even circle pits forming.

It says something about the ground that Bullet For My Valentine have lost in recent years when an 1,800 capacity venue was not quite sold out.  That said BFMV are back on form and with Venom they just might be on the road to fulfilling their undoubted potential.

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Bullet for my Valentine are on the internet here.  They are on Facebook and they Tweet as @BFMVOfficial 

Bullet For My Valentine – O2 Academy Bournemouth October 01 2015

I went to a super gig at Bournemouth’s O2 Academy last night.

Bullet For My Valentine headlines with While She Sleeps and Japanese band Cold Rain supporting.  It was a great show in a nice little venue.  The tunes from Bullet For My Valentine’s new album Venom come over great live. Top night all round.

The lighting for the support acts left a lot to be desired with harsh back lights and no front lighting.  It’s not easy to get good shots in that environment but here are a few photos.  I hope you enjoy them.  If you do please be nice and hit the like button or leave a comment.

Cheers

Bullet For My Valentine

Bullet For My Valentine – Back With Venom

There was a time not that long ago when we thought that Bullet For My Valentine were going to kick on to become one of the most important rock bands on the planet.  Described variously as hard rock, heavy metal or metal core, this was a band who were Kerrang’s best British Band three times and who won the best live band award in 2010.  Their 2008 album Scream Aim Fire was an absolute monster of an album, 2010’s Fever didn’t quite hit the heights of its predecessor.

Then what happened?  Well frankly Bullet For My Valentine lost focus, drifted into side projects and in 2013 pushed out Temper Temper an album that even die-hard fans would accept was at best mediocre.  Fast forward to 2015 and Bullet For My Valentine are back with a new offering – Venom.  The question is does Venom mark a return to form or is this the poison that will send them to the hidden hell of rock obscurity?

The Guardian, that well known bastion of quality writing on the metal genre, damns Venom with faint praise.  Dom Lawson says that Venom “does at least suggest that frontman Matt Tuck has embraced heavy metal in its bombastic entirety again.”  Lawson continues “where Venom does succeed is in the ferocity of its heavier moments, which while seldom straying from entry-level metalcore and thrash cliches, do at least sound like the work of a band who like metal enough to stop ruining it.”

Lawson does have a point.  Check out “Pariah”  the guitar wok is exemplary, heavy pulsing and threatening but you can barely hear the bass guitar in the mix and the lyrics rend towards the cliched.   Check out the video for “You Want A Battle” it shows huge promise, heavy guitar and Tuck’s screamed lyrics suggest some real energy and Venom, but what’s with the schoolboy choir?  Seriously!

The Evening Standard, like the Guardian sees Venom as a mixed bag.  John Aizlewood that Bullet For My Valentine “sound rejuvenated: howling, super-fast, riff-laden guitars thrash it out with Matthew Tuck’s hollered vocals and his emotionally repressed lyrics. It packs a punch, although Tuck’s bizarre insistence that anything resembling melody be removed is predictably self-defeating.”

Venom does mark something of a return to form for Bullet For My Valentine.  There are moments of real promise, ‘No Way Out’ and ‘Broken’ pack serious punch, they are heavy, meaty and aggressive, played with both energy and pace.  I really liked the album but I must say that it does have something of the feel of a band desperately trying to recover past glories rather than moving forward.

I will be seeing Bullet For My Valentine live in a small venue in October.  I will be interested to see how the new songs translate to the live arena. Perhaps by then Venom will have ingrained itself more deeply into my psyche, we shall see.

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Bullet for my Valentine are on the internet here.  They are on Facebook and they Tweet as @BFMVOfficial