In retrospect, following up The Poison was going to be a difficult task for Bullet For My Valentine. Released at the arguable apex of metalcore’s commercial viability, the album, led by massive single “Tears Don’t Fall”, vaulted the band up the metalcore ladder in a way that put added pressure on BFMV.
Luckily, Bullet For My Valentine managed to pivot in arguably the best way possible on 2008’s Scream Aim Fire. While it’s not a perfect album – flaws in lyrical choices and a few filler tracks mar the proceedings to an extent – the album’s added thrash influences and strong melodic presence helped make it a commercial success. Here’s why it should be more of a critical darling, too.
One of the things Scream Aim Fire does quite well is provide a better balance between more aggressive vocals, and more melodic aspects – both vocally and with plenty of guitar solos. Take the one-two punch of the title track and “Eye Of The Storm”, for instance. Combining stronger hooks with more classic metal influences (similar to what Avenged Sevenfold would do on City Of Evil), these two tracks provide a strong foundation for what’s to come.
There’s plenty of songs here that lean more toward the band’s first EPs, as well as The Poison. “End Of Days” is one of the biggest, as its barely 4 minute runtime includes most of the traits that make BFMV a fan favorite. A fairly typical BFMV guitar solo is pushed to the next level with added songwriting experience, making for a compelling listen. Meanwhile, you have longer tracks like “Take It Out On Me” (featuring Skindred’s Benji Webbe) that provide more expansion and room to breathe (it’s almost 6 minutes long), and said track manages to be a song that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Even the addition of more ballads works well enough here. “Hearts Burst Into Fire” is a hit for a reason, with its initial guitar solo giving way to a galloping, melodic refrain. “Forever And Always” treads similar territory. While it’s a much longer track, the concept still works – especially compared to how less effective some of BFMV’s later attempts at the style went.
All of this is to say that, while not necessarily a revolutionary masterclass in metalcore’s development, Scream Aim Fire is a notable effort nonetheless. It manages to avoid a sophomore slump, develops new ideas, and even provides some hugely exciting standout tracks.