Bullet for My Valentine

Welsh imports Bullet for My Valentine aim for metal's sweet spot: shred-tastic enough for headbangers and poppy enough to please the girlfriends with power ballads. They deliver plenty of clean vocals over chugging percussion with galloping riffage and soaring hypersonic solos that rip a page from Iron Maiden and Metallica. Indeed, other than brief spates of throaty growl and increasingly rare breakdowns, little separates them from their classic '80s influences. Though they've never been that brutal, their latest, Fever, pares away even more aggression in favor of middle-of-the-road arena-ready melodicism. While the guitars are still highly charged, they're unleashed less frequently, subjugated to slower tempos and Matt Tuck's croon, which is even higher in the mix. Opening act Chiodos are more adventurous. Their ever-mutating attack wrestles disparate elements — pretty tinkling piano lines, metalcore churn, abrupt contrapuntal rhythms, scratchy, slashing post-punk guitar, and shimmering keyboard washes — into dynamic, well-wrought arrangements with cinematic panache. They've built a rabid grassroots following with a decade of hard touring, but are at a crossroads. It's been three years since Bone Palace Ballet, and in September they dismissed original singer Craig Owens, raising the stakes for their third album, which they began recording in February.

 
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