Bullet For My Valentine

support Still Remains
author TL date 18/02/08 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Looking at the queue outside of Vega tonight confirms one of my theories about Bullet For My Valentine: The vast majority of their fans are as emo as they come. Considering this I'm continually dumbfound as to why they seem to be attempting to be all thrash metal on their new album instead of sticking to what they actually do well, namely melodic songs ala the ones on their debut. But anyway, this is a gig review and not a rant, and I'm hanging around in Vega for a reason - more specifically because I've been interviewing Padge, the band's guitarist, and now me and my friends are just waiting for today's supportband Still Remains, to come on stage..

Still Remains

.. And when they do, let me emphasize that I am just all too serious when I say that they go for EVERYTHING. In the very beginning there's only the sound of the keyboards, playing super-catchy melodies, but then soon the drums start pounding, commanding those who haven't already to turn towards the stage, and soon enough the band comes running on stage and launch into their first song with furious energy. These guys are the kind of band who seem all emo and reserved if you look on their Myspace, but on stage they don't stop running around headbanging and frontman T.J. Miller is even more raw and "hardcore" than on record. Unfortunately for the band, their sound never really matches their visual performance, as it stays a bit muddy throughout the set, especially audible in how the mic of Steve Hetlands is set too low for his backup vocals to conceal the wear and tear Miller's throaty screams have clearly done on his clean voice. Also it's hard to get around the fact that Still Remains' material isn't the most varied of its kind, so listening with your eyes closed can get a bit dull. However, what the band lacks in pure musical appeal they more than make up for in stage appearance. The way there's a fuckload of kickass soloing and the way T.J. is constantly throwing himself around stage and up and down speakers, yelling for the crowd to get moving, instigating a larger pit than Denmark usually sees, shows us a band that loves being on tour and loves playing shows, and whatever you may miss musically, you can't help but enjoy the enthusiasm.

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Bullet For My Valentine

So me and Johan from Trusted Few are talking about how that performance will probably prove to blow Bullet For My Valentine of stage, and before I can think through the Guitar Hero 3 quote "Let's play our new single first so that piece of shit is out of the way", the band comes on stage and launches into "Scream Aim Fire". Much to my surprise the performance of this song does not annoy me as it usually does when I hear it on the record, since there's something in Matt's vocals that not only removes any doubt about his singing condition, but also makes me able to take the song somewhat seriously. "Is this the day they bring the miracle?", I wonder, while the kids start moshing. Unfortunately, already in the second song "Disappear" the Bullet-sound seems as boring as on the new album itself. "The Poison" classics "Four Words To Choke Upon" and "Tears Don't Fall" inspire nostalgia in the crowd, but honestly they feel far from the songs we listened to with open mouths and wide eyes back when we first got the debut album. Maybe it's the fact that in listening to those songs of dark and twisted love, you think of a kind of drama and passion Bullet For My Valentine simply doesn't deliver on stage. The guys seem more like the kind of band that's somewhat more leaned back, bouncing merrily across the stage and presenting their guitar-skills to the crowd in a way more tongue-in-cheek than authentic.

Maybe it's just me but this kind of casual and distanced behaviour seems to drain the energy out of the band's songs, and it seems as if the better the song, the more evident it is that they don't match the energy of their material. Even "Hand Of Blood" feels weird and awkward, and it doesn't exactly help the guys either that they're super-tight, when the sound has hardly improved from the Still Remains set. The kids in the crowd don't care though, as they seem hellbent on having a good time no matter if the show matches their expectations or not (which a handful of happy moshers will later tell me that it didn't even come close to doing). The state of things remains mostly the same during "Room 409" and "Hearts Burst Into Fire" and while the audience loyally calls the band back when they go off, their odd selection of songs for the encore ("The End", "Spit You Out" and "Waking The Demon") only makes us wonder what became of "All These Things I Hate". Or wait - maybe again they just went for hard instead of good? Regardless there's no getting around that the performance tonight is by a band that, while having some good material and being super tight, are not anywhere near living up to the massive levels of hype and attention they've been receiving. A band that, in spite of better material, was pretty much upstaged by their support and if it wasn't for the unyielding enthusiasm of tonights crowd, the show's grade would probably be closer to matching the one we had to give the new album.

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Setlist:

Photos by: Bright Side Of Murder Photography

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