Bullet For My Valentine + Tesseract + Bleed From Within @ Eventim Apollo, London

5th November 2021
Review by Jack Merry
Photography by Rebecca Bush

Welsh heavy metal heavyweights Bullet For My Valentine had spent the vast majority of the lockdown writing and recording what would become their self-titled seventh studio album, and the band collectively decided to take things in a heavier direction after the mixed-to-negative reception of 2018’s Gravity with its crisp pop metal sheen and lack of screams and guitar solos.

Fans will be incredibly pleased to hear that the new album, Bullet For My Valentine, achieves that heavier crunch right from the outset. Singles ‘Parasite,’ ‘Knives,’ and ‘Shatter’ are among the band’s heaviest material to date, and the band has taken the album on tour across the UK this November. Bringing Bleed From Within and Tesseract with them, metal fans are in for one hell of a night…

As the crowd filtered in steadily, Scottish metallers BLEED FROM WITHIN (4/5) took to the stage in a triumphant display of sheer power and heavy metal bombast. With a set that leans heavily on the band’s excellent latest studio album FractureBleed From Within launch into the monstrous grooves of ‘Into Nothing’ as the twin guitar attack of Craig Gowans and Steven Jones leads the charge with a frantic energy that never dips the entire time they’re on stage.

By the halfway point of the second track ‘Pathfinder,’ vocalist Scott Kennedy is already calling for circle pits and even a Wall of Death and the hungry crowd obeys, which is probably the earliest I’ve ever seen either of those at any show I’ve been to.

The rest of the set keeps the energy and heaviness, with the breathless ‘Afterlife’ and the mellow beginnings of ‘Fracture’ that lead into crushing riffs and pulsating bass lines that shook the audience to their very core.

‘Ascend’ is breathtaking and the grooves hit hard, while the set closer ‘The End Of All We Know’ is just sublime. The latter has been my favourite song of theirs since discovering them towards the end of 2020. Bleed From Within are on fire lately and will only get better in time.

Scott Kennedy is proving himself to be an excellent frontman and performer within the metal world as he has the entire venue eating out of the palm of his hand. After slots at both Bloodstock Festival and the Download Pilot earlier this year and a phenomenal new album under their belt, Bleed From Within are poised to be the next big name in metal. Check out their upcoming headline tour dates!

Into Nothing
The End of All We Know

Hailing from Milton Keynes, English progressive metal band TESSERACT (4/5) was admittedly an odd choice to open up for a more straightforward heavy metal outfit like Bullet For My Valentine and I was surprised when I saw the initial announcement. I was curious to see how well they would fit in, and how well the audience would take to them. Having heard reports of previous audiences on the tour being less-than-pleasant towards them, I’m pleased to report there was none of that hostility in London.

With a setlist selection that reminded me of Muse at Download 2015, which leaned into the band’s heavier material to appease the rock and metal crowds, Tesseract very much went down the same route with great effect. Comprised of Daniel Tompkins (lead vocals), Alec “Acle” Kahney (lead guitar and producer), James Monteith (rhythm guitar), Amos Williams (bass, backing vocals), and Jay Postones (drums, percussion), Tesseract unleashes their heavier side with a blistering and updated rendition of ‘Hollow’ and two choice selections from their debut extended play, Concealing Fate.

The crushing Djent-style riffs and technical prowess blend effortlessly with the band’s ear for melodic and beautiful musical passages. ‘King’ highlights this beautifully with hard-hitting riffs and Daniel Tompkins’ soaring vocals bursting through in the mix.

The band’s light show pulsed and flashed in time with each precision beat of the music, as ‘Tourniquet’ and ‘Of Mind – Nocturne’ come to life in a collision of odd time signatures, technical fury, and melodic passion that all highlight the band’s musical ability.

The home stretch of ‘Smile,’ ‘Orbital,’ and set closer ‘Juno’ keep the riffs coming thick but not necessarily fast, as the planet-sized guitar parts cycle over and over in each track to hammer the riffs home and directly into our brains. Alec and James at this point can only be wizards with a masterful and otherworldly twin guitar assault right up until the closing bars of ‘Juno.’

While undeniably not for everyone in the audience (a small bunch of people near me seemed to get restless and were clock-watching for most of their set), Tesseract managed to pull off an excellent support slot that showcased their music really well and highlighted their unarguably near-inhuman talent.

Hollow (2.0 Version)
Concealing Fate Part 2: Deception
Concealing Fate Part 3: The Impossible
Of Mind – Nocturne

The night’s main attraction BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE (5/5) has been a long time coming for personally; having never seen them live before despite being a fan since the Scream Aim Fire days. The stars just never aligned for me to witness their technical musicianship paired with brute force riffing and effortlessly memorable melodies in a live environment… until now.

With a self-proclaimed and self-titled “heavier” new album (released on the same day as the London show) in an effort to win back some goodwill with their fanbase after a few stylistic changes ever since the band released Temper Temper in 2013 and the highly commercialised Gravity in 2018, Bullet For My Valentine are sounding more focused and visceral than ever.

The Welsh heavy metal quartet currently consists of founding members Matt Tuck on lead vocals and rhythm guitar and Michael ‘Padge’ Paget on lead guitar and backing vocals, alongside relative newcomers Jamie Mathias on bass guitar and Jason Bowld behind the drumkit.

Kicking off a setlist that will have the majority of fans foaming at the mouth, the new album’s opening track ‘Parasite’ is delivered in all its brutal and unflinching take-no-prisoners glory. When they released this track as a single, it actually blew me away. Matt Tuck certainly wasn’t joking when he said they had written some of their heaviest material in years, and live it crushes even harder. The harsh screams have returned and are sounding better than ever, and the relentless guitar riffs hit hard and fast.

The pace never seems to drop all night as even Gravity single ‘Over It’ comes across so much better live with its melodic vocal stylings and catchy guitar parts when I wasn’t much of a fan of that entire record. Fan favourite track ‘Your Betrayal’ from 2010’s Fever album gets a rapturous reception when that iconic thunderous introduction starts, and the entire Apollo collectively sings that explosive chorus back at the band.

Another new track ‘Rainbow Veins’ is a fine addition to the set with lyrics that deal with the effects of medication on mental health. It is a relatable song for anybody dealing with that, and we all know what a raw deal it can be. “Diving headfirst into a black hole, becoming unstable mentally, I’m trying hard to ride these tidal waves, Of unfiltered ecstasy,” sings Matt atop a pummeling rhythm section. Matt’s vocals are sounding better than ever on this tour, and it’s pretty clear BFMV means business.

The classic Bullet track ‘4 Words (To Choke Upon)’ gets an airing and it sounds especially heavy. I’ve always loved The Poison album but the production on it is somewhat lacking compared to the quality of the band’s later material, and it is really cool to hear it ‘updated,’ so to speak. I’d potentially like to see them re-record that album, but I know many fans would hate that idea.

‘Worthless’ from 2015’s Venom is a surprise yet very welcome addition as I love that song personally, and Gravity’s ‘Don’t Need You’ is presented in all its vicious and biting glory. The lighting and backdrop are very impressive, as two gigantic video screens in the shape of the parasite on the album artwork provide visual accompaniment to the band’s set. The only thing missing was fire. I’d honestly expected bursts of fire at some point during their set, and it’s honestly my only real criticism.

Vicious new single ‘Knives’ fits nicely as the breathless heavy-hitting riffs and violent lyrics are reminiscent of the Scream Aim Fire days and the new material is translating so well to a crowd. Normally playing new music during shows can be very hit or miss, but with Bullet‘s new material, it’s absolutely a hit. ‘Knives’ is completely brutal and has already won back a lot of the goodwill they had lost with some fans. The bass really rumbles and that feeling when it hits your chest will never get boring.

‘Scream Aim Fire’ receives thunderous applause and has everyone in the crowd singing and shouting along to its volcanic chorus, and Fever track ‘The Last Fight’ is a fantastic way to end the main set and a genuine surprise song that I didn’t think they would still play live. The crowd has reached boiling point and is completely ecstatic as Matt and the rest of the guys have them eating from the palms of their hands. There’s not a long of stage banter throughout or anything like that, Bullet are letting their music do the talking.

The encore Bullet had picked was potentially flawless, as I wouldn’t have changed that encore for anything. Starting with the new track ‘Shatter,’ the best song Machine Head never wrote, Bullet For My Valentine combines the best of new and old to close out an already phenomenal show. ‘Shatter’ is so vicious in its delivery and it is a blistering display of sheer brute force from a band rediscovering their heavier side.

Classic tracks ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ and ‘Waking The Demon’ provide the biggest sing-a-long moments of the night and leave the entire crowd incredibly happy. The former was an expected huge emotional moment; something akin to seeing Bring Me The Horizon perform ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ back in September this year, and has all of the early noughties emos and metalheads in the crowd singing their hearts out to every single word. ‘Waking The Demon’ is a brutal and breathless finisher as mosh pits ensue, and as the final notes ring out the night comes to an end.

It is crystal clear that Bullet For My Valentine are out for blood, out to prove themselves and rebuild that trust in the fans that were disappointed in recent releases, and they are taking no bullshit this time around. The new album is brutal and absolutely all killer no filler, and their live show is an impressive display of both sheer power and technical prowess. Hopefully, they can maintain this trajectory because they’ve earned their place back where they belong. All three bands were incredible, and it’s been a fantastic and breathless night of metal. Don’t miss them next time around!

Over It
Your Betrayal
Piece Of Me
Rainbow Veins
4 Words (To Choke Upon)
Don’t Need You
Take It Out On Me (Snippet)
Under Again
Scream Aim Fire
You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War)
The Last Fight
Tears Don’t Fall
Waking The Demon