Gravity, by Bullet for my Valentine
Suggested by Rob Catton
In my role of Milk Planner, I am responsible for disposing thousands of litres of milk, arriving from farm, that does not meet our exacting standards.
I’ve talked about this before, in my review for Album 363, Captain Beefheart’s Safe As Milk. I mentioned the processes in passing; today, I’m delving deeper.
When a tanker of milk that’s collected from nearby farms arrives at a dairy, it undergoes a barrage of quality tests. Measurements are made against a strict set of metrics, and if results fall outside our parameters then the milk tanker is sent elsewhere.
Some tests demand the milk post results between an upper and lower threshold. Such tests measure the fat content, or the protein, or the water, of which there can be too much or not enough. A subset of tests adhere to an upper limit, such as the amount of bacteria present in the milk, or the temperature on collection. If that upper limit is breached, the milk is banished. Other tests are based on binary decisions. Is there anything weird floating in the milk? If so, it has to go. A final set of tests are more ephemeral. Give it a sniff, does it smell bad to you?
If any parameters are breached, the milk is not fit for processing. In such cases, we either sell it to companies with lower standards than our own, or we destroy it with fire.
Gravity is the most recent album from the Welsh metallers Bullet For My Valentine, and it embraces an almost emo Nu / Alt Metal style. Apparently, this is askance to the band’s previous output, which championed a more metalcore / post-hardcore thrashing that is showcased on their previous five offerings. To me, a newbie to the Bullets, it cuts no mustard either way.
One aspect I’m coming to realise, with this Nu / Alt Metal sound, is that the more I hear, the more formulaic it appears to be. The instruments are pitched and played to the same standard, with the same sounds. The vocals are slender variations on an already thin theme, be that reedily high or comically growled. The themes wallow in a mire of self-reflection, becoming more tedious with each passing phrase.
It’s not that I don’t like the genre. I do, and have said so many times before, but there are thresholds to be met. The formula is simple, the machinery on display. While I enjoy the stutter-drumming Over It and the lush Letting You Go, and my standout Piece of Me with its intricate drumming and strident lyric, the cogwork that drives this album doesn’t quite run smoothly. Like a tanker of milk, I run my tests. The vocals are workaday, but do not fall within truly enjoyable parameters. My upper limit of self-indulgence is breached rather quickly. Okay, so there’s nothing weird enough floating through the songs that would give me real pause, but a subtle sniff does cause my nose to wrinkle at the gamey, malty undercurrent.
I give Gravity a middling 5/10. It’s an example of the form, but it doesn’t meet my standards. It’s not an album I’d consign to the flames, and I’m sure it can be salvaged by fans that have a lower tolerance for imperfection than myself.