Pillbox

Bullet For My Valentine speaks to The Tartan

An abstract representation of Bullet for my Valentine's songwriting (credit: Clara Kim/) An abstract representation of Bullet for my Valentine's songwriting (credit: Clara Kim/)

Bullet for My Valentine is a Welsh heavy metal band from Bridgend formed in 1998. The band has achieved significant mainstream success, especially when compared to other heavy metal bands, with millions of record sales and two gold records in the U.S. alone. In anticipation for their U.S. Tour, which includes a date in Pittsburgh at Stage AE on Feb. 24, The Tartan got to sit down with lead vocalist for the band, Matt Tuck, and talk about the band’s history, music, and their newest album — Venom. Venom, which Tuck emphatically describes as the band’s best work, recently debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock charts.

Venom, in its sound, is perhaps the most intense Bullet for My Valentine album yet. Tuck, in large part, directed the sound of the album; I asked him about some of the experiences he drew from in crafting the songs on the album. One such experience he told me about was the song “You Want a Battle? Here’s a War.” The song reflects his own upbringing in a way — the driving lead guitar and aggressive instrumentation set over a bombastic beat is reminiscent of Tuck’s time growing up in Wales, without anyone to rely on. “My teachers didn’t really get me. They tried to get me to abandon being in a band, but there just weren’t any other opportunities in the area. The band was who I was.” Tuck says he was picked on frequently for being in a band and liking metal music as a kid, and wanted to make a song that fans, both his age and younger, would identify with.

Another song that has some emotional significance for Tuck is what he calls his favorite song of the album — the opening track “No Way Out.” The song, for Tuck, “is a great summary of where the band is, musically speaking, and where it wants to be. I love all of the different components of the song. The middle has a technical guitar-heavy piece for all the real guitarheads out there, the thrash of the verse is just pure energy. We really didn’t want to hold anything back or pull any punches.” The song certainly embodies the tone and musicality of the album. It also harkens back to Tuck’s childhood about his frustrations with not being able to express himself as people in his life seldom supported his avenues for ambition.

Finally, we talked about the titular track “Venom.” A departure from the aggressive tone midway through the album, “Venom” is best described as a brooding ballad, with more melodic singing in order to emphasize an emotional bent in the song. The song’s subject, about a harrowing love-hate relationship, is not one Tuck says strictly applies to him in his life, but a song that he still found immensely enjoyable to write. “It’s about being in a relationship with someone who is almost poisonous in the way they’re affecting you, which is why we named the track the way we did.” The song also speaks to the genre-bending capabilities of Tuck, who has named unlikely sources such as Bob Dylan as songwriting inspirations. “We just do what we do. People have a hard time categorizing us — some people say we’re metal-core, other people say we’re more on the hard rock side. We just make music, kept things simple and let the songs do the talking.” I think the willingness and adeptness with which Tuck crosses genres speaks to his skill as a songwriter and an artist. Not many metal bands are comfortable with putting a love song like “Venom” in their tracklist for fear of losing credibility, but Bullet for My Valentine’s unapologetic uniqueness is one of the main factors of their success.

I would personally recommend seeing Bullet for My Valentine at Stage AE on Feb. 24. Their tracklist always includes a good bit of improvisation for fans who want music beyond what they’ve heard before, and their live presence is always entertaining. The tracklist will be composed of approximately six songs from Venom, and eight fan favorites from older works. The raw energy present in Venom should lend itself to the band’s most bombastic concerts yet, definitely not something to miss for any metal fan out there.