Bullet for my Valentine – The Poison
Words by David Steed
There aren’t many bands who can claim to have sold out the Brixton Academy on the back of their first full length album. Yet this is just what Bullet for my Valentine did. After years of toiling away on the underground scene, The Poison made them Britain’s biggest metal band pretty much overnight. One of the original big metalcore bands of the mid 00’s (along with Trivium, Avenged Sevenfold and Killswitch Engage), their sound is quite different from what people see metalcore as today, yet those early indicators are all there (thankfully without the over-reliance on breakdowns). However, penning them under a single genre tag is doing them a disservice: The Poison has everything from thrashing riffs to harmonised melodies, crushing breakdowns to emotional acoustics and alongside all the screamed vocals were hooks so catchy that the term ‘pop-metal’ is readily bandied around to describe them. This was metal for a new generation, and the masses of (mostly) teenage fans lapped it all up. Now that we are older and wiser, some of the lyrics may grate a little (they have never been singer Matt Tuck’s strong suit) but there isn’t a metalhead under thirty who can’t sing along to “Tears Don’t Fall”. Yes, there were naysayers and ‘true metal’ fans who slated them as emo popstars with guitars, but The Poison succeeded regardless. Heavy songs about ex-girlfriends and relationship breakdowns were just the thing that emotionally unstable teenage outsiders needed, and it made Bullet for my Valentine go stratospheric and, despite some releases of questionable quality since then, they have been a mainstay of the modern metal scene ever since.
Trivium – Ascendancy
Words by David Steed
Another genre defining release from the mid-00’s, Ascendancy arrived on the scene with all the subtlety of sledgehammer. Its intense and melodic twin guitar assault, plus their cocksure frontman, Matt Heafy, drew such bold statements from the media (and the band themselves) as calling them the ‘next Metallica’. And Ascendancy just dared anyone to say otherwise. Every song could be a single: not in a ‘this will do well on radio’ way, but in the sense that every song could proudly represent the band and their sound. All killer no filler as the saying goes. Other than the opening minutes of “The End of Everything” the album is a no holds barred frenzy of precise thrash riffing, searing guitar solos and pulverising drumming that to this day makes any musician sweat just thinking about playing it. Standout tracks like “Rain”, “Pull Harder of the Strings of Your Martyr” and “Like Light to Flies” showed how classic metal sentiments could be combined with a modern and extreme sound to really bring the genre up-to-date. The only reason that Trivium aren’t the ‘next Metallica’ is because of their refusal to stand still and repeat themselves. They have since produced albums that match Ascendancy’s quality in different ways, but it is Ascendancy that put their mark on heavy metal history.