Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Concert Review: Bullet For My Valentine @ Iron City Birmingham, AL 02/28/16

My friend, Dan, still owes me a Metallica concert.  About 23 years ago, I sat mesmerized as he told me about seeing the legendary band in concert.  Dan told me how in sync they were with each other, how every beat, every dramatic pause between the head banging thunder was answered by the guitars picking up right where they left off, answering the silence at exactly the same millisecond to rain another heavy metal thunderstorm down on the crowd.  I told him right then that I wanted him to take me to a Metallica concert someday.  Due to relocation and life, I never got to see Metallica in concert with Dan or anyone else but on Sunday night, I got a taste of what it's like to see a metal band perform, not separately, but as one.

When Fran told me I had a Bullet For My Valentine press and photo pass, I was excited for the opportunity to review the band but not necessarily about attending the concert, if that makes sense.  I have to be in the right frame of mind to listen to "screamy" music, as I call it.  I listen to BFMV when I'm at the gym and I like them for that purpose.  If you want ass kicking music, they're your go to band.  If you want bitter tales of betrayal to scream along to, BFMV will be your favorite band.  If you want a sweet, sweet love ballad, point your metal horns in another direction because you won't find it here, although I know they could definitely do that if they so desired.

BFMV consists of Matthew Tuck on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Michael Thomas on drums, Michael Paget on lead guitar and backing vocals, and Jamie Mathias on bass and vocals.  The core of BFMV has been around since 1998 so they've had just a bit of experience with working a crowd into a haze of mosh pits and crowd surfing.

BFMV full on assaulted just about every sense the crowd had as they masterfully tore their way through about 15 songs, spanning their five albums.  My personal favorites performed were "Your Betrayal", "Venom", and "Tears Don't Fall".  After performing together for so long, it was clear the band still very much enjoys what they do with each other.  It was obvious that they still love sharing this gift and their chemistry with the crowd.  If you were at Iron City Birmingham on Sunday night and didn't feel compelled to bang your head at least a few times, you probably need to get to a Doctor as soon as possible.

Between Matt and Jamie, the screaming let up only long enough for me to feel adrift, wanting more, and then it would start again with a wonderful, never tiring vengeance.  Song after song, it tore through my head in the best of ways.  Matt and Jamie played off each other like they've been doing this together for decades instead of just around a year (Jamie recently replaced Jason James).  I stood to the side of the stage late in the concert, maybe about 8 feet away, and just marveled at the sheer lung capacity Jamie must have as he vocally shredded his way through the screamy portions of "Tears Don't Fall".  I'm getting chills just thinking about it again.

Michael Thomas on drums drove the beat forward mercilessly with every song and Michael Paget on lead guitar was a rock god defined, calling immediately to my mind Metallica.  Rock trivia time:  BFMV started out as mainly a Metallica cover band.  However, this band in its current form are certainly not copying anyone today.  They're standing at the top of their very own hard earned metal trail.

However you feel about metalcore, thrash metal, and the distinctions between those and heavy metal, I strongly urge you to see a band like BFMV in concert.  Especially BFMV, who I absolutely loved in concert and would attend again in a heartbeat if given a chance, even though it's not my favorite everyday listening material.  I'm not here to debate what should be labeled as "metalcore", "thrash metal" or "heavy metal" or to analyze whether BFMV is metal at all, based on metal's purest origins and its journey.  However, in my opinion, if the music makes you throw the horns and bang your head...  it's metal, my friend.

This tour with While She Sleeps and Asking Alexandria is called "The British Invasion" tour and for good reason.  The British invaded Birmingham (Alabama) and by the time they were done with us, BFMV had left the crowd in a moshing, crowd surfing, totally spent mess.  I photographed the band from the photo press barricade for three songs and by the time I returned to the general population, I was drenched in sweat and had thrown my jacket down somewhere in the photo pit.  Please, please invade us again, BFMV!

Strap yourselves into whatever chair you're sitting in and watch BFMV's newest video.

Stay tuned later this week as I post my interview with Rich Meyer from Highly Suspect and share a link to their latest single.

'Till next time, y'all!


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