The Welsh Metalcore rockers brought the house down on Saturday, proving they’ve still got the chops 20 years later.
I’m a biased fan. Bullet for My Valentine were a big part of this writer’s tween and early teenage years.
I’m the fan who wanted them to play the entirety of their first EP and The Poison while I moshed myself into oblivion. Later albums I engaged with, including Scream Aim Fire, but lost touch with them in that deep angst riddled way.
Fast forwarding a few years, they emerged back onto my radar with the release of their single Knives and subsequent self titled album: Bullet were back, and romancing a sound both nostalgic and new, showcasing a potentially exciting new direction while appealing to the old fans who are often resistant to change. (See above RE wanting the full first EP played in it’s entirety!)
Bullet for My Valentine are supported by genre veterans Atreyu, and comparatively relative newcomers Jinjer. The latter, though active since 2009, have really came into their own over the last six years, gaining massive traction with singles Pisces and I Speak Astronomy.
The queue at the iconic Barrowlands Ballroom snaked around streets when we arrived, resulting in missing Atreyu’s entire performance. Jinjer rock the place sufficiently enough to compensate for this travesty.
I had heard of them, but wasn’t familiar with their heavy tunes; this proved irrelevant as a literal heavy metal Lady Gaga (singer Tatiana Shmailyuk) emerges onto the stage. Clad in neon, growling and screaming with the best of them, mesmerising.
Immediately I make a mental note to check this band out more once I’m home. The world of heavy metal and metalcore is often male dominated, though this has changed drastically over the last decade.
I’m excited seeing the Ukrainian heavyweight represent for the ladies, and you should check them out. Now.
The main course
Bullet emerge to a screaming crowd, thoroughly warmed up by the spicy Jinjer and presumably Atreyu, though this writer will never know.
A sea of younger millennials dominates the Barrowlands, peppered with older and younger pockets here and there: we’ve came to destroy ourselves, and we mean business.
Aforementioned banger Knives is our opener, into decent Over It from the less well received album Gravity.
The crowd, not wanting to spend their energy right away moshes into one another. No pit opens, much to the approval of some of this writer’s cohorts.
I’m a sucker for a good pit so was jonesing for good, clean, euphoric, yet respectful carnage. Lead singer Matt Tuck, joined by the last original member, lead guitarist Michael Paget appreciate Glasgow’s response.
His voice has taken a beating over the years, and bass player Jamie Mathias is compensating wonderfully, transcending at times from backing vocals to straight up lead vocals as Tuck shreds. Understandable given the two decades he has spent gracing us with his distinct clean vocals and fantastic growls and screams.
As the riff from 4 Words (To Choke Upon) blares, I drop everything, losing myself in a huge crowd surge of sheer nostalgia. The bodies bang into one another as we collectively enjoy one of the best metalcore anthems of the 00’s.
I told you I am biased. This gig is sweaty, in the best way. Tuck calls for a pit to open at some point, couldn’t tell you when. That specific euphoria has taken hold.
Most popular song, allegedly
They declare the most voted song fans wanted as an auto-include on this tour: Hearts Burst Into Fire. It is met with raucous applause.
There is something for everyone at this gig, as they play at least one song from most of their albums. I appreciate a band like Bullet doing this. When you’ve been around for a while as a band or musician, there’s a need to find the balance. They achieve this and more, knowing Glasgow adores them.
Plenty of people hate pits, and that’s fine. There’s more than enough room for everyone to have fun as I’m in a circle pit getting rag-dolled about to Don’t Need You, You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War), Rainbow Veins, and Shatter.
My shoe doesn’t last the duration of this effort, splitting at the heel and now useless as my exposed toes are annihilated. I need to get out of this pit and fast. It’s a breeze due to the friendly giants poised and ready for picking you up, or getting you out.
Bullet meet our energy tenfold. You can see the grins on their faces as the crowd showers them with everything they’ve got.
Suffocating Under Words of Sorrow and All These Things I Hate Revolve Around Me blasts, satisfying that urge for The Poison. Damn the crowd is wild. Between crowd surfers and dedicated moshers, feet are flying and we couldn’t be happier.
The sound system is just right, and with no technical hitches to speak of, Bullet have this down to an art. Tuck balances his own distinct vocals with support from his bandmates, showing no signs of fatigue as a result.
Before they pop off to the next city on the list, Bullet for My Valentine decide to cement the nostalgia. Your Betrayal, Waking the Demon, and the epic Tears Don’t Fall come pounding. The crowd is fantastic, full of energy and still going strong- a testament to their staying power.
Ultimately, the reason they aren’t receiving a five star review is that nostalgia may be more powerful than the direction Bullet are heading in.
When your crowd is jumping more to your classics than your newest album, there’s a sense that they may be past their best. However, their performance of every single song was note perfect and for fans, such a huge treat. Remember these lads have been around the block for a long time.
You never know though – Knives is a banger. There may be more bullets in this gun just yet. Watch out if they hit the target.
Featured Image Credit: Rachel Swan
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