Two summers ago, I went on vacation to Costa Rica. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of it. However, it was at this same time that the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival came to my local venue, The Comcast Center. Needless to say, with 2009′s lineup being the way it was, I was slightly disappointed. While I scrolled through the list of bands on the fest’s website, I saw one band that I had yet to listen to. This band was on the main stage, and was called Bullet for My Valentine. I liked the name, so I decided to give them a listen. They have been one of my overall favorite bands ever since.
Welsh metalcore band, Bullet for My Valentine, were essentially thrust into stardom with the release of their debut album, The Poison. This was mainly due to the smash hit songs “Tears Don’t Fall” and “All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)”. Since then, the band has released two other albums titled Scream Aim Fire, and Fever. But before all of these albums came out, Bullet for My Valentine had released two EPs: one self-titled and a second, titled Hand of Blood. The second EP has almost the same track listing as the first (only the order of the songs is changed) and it is truly a spectacular release by a soon-to-be-famous band.
The overall sound of the EP is much closer to that of The Poison than any other of Bullet for My Valentine’s releases, which could explain why I like it so much (The Poison is my personal favorite of their releases). This is clearly apparent by the band’s decision to take two of the tracks and have them on their debut record (the two tracks being “4 Words (To Choke Upon)” and “Cries in Vain”). The dynamic riffs and solos on this record are unmistakably that of Matt Tuck and Padge (Michael Padget), while a scream that just about anyone familiar with other Bullet for My Valentine works could pick out to be Tuck’s lashes out at you. It’s is a real shame that Tuck is no longer able to scream like he used to, and has to have bassist Jay James fill in on screamed vocals during live performances.
While all six of the tracks on this EP are enjoyable, the real standout is the title track. “Hand of Blood” features many of the aspects of a Bullet for My Valentine song that fans have come to love: Tuck’s screams as well as clean vocals, Padge’s expert guitar work and an overall feel of a song that just makes you wanna rock out. Drawing on personal experience, I can say that Bullet for My Valentine fans really love this song. On the first date of their Fever Tour, the entire crowd erupted into a chant of “Hand of blood! Hand of blood!”, at which point Tuck said that they had worked hard on their setlist and asked the crowd not to “fuck with [it]“. He also added, “if we are all good little boys and girls”, the band might play it (they didn’t, to many fans dismay).
Another great track on the EP is “Curses”, which is similar in song structure to “All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)” in that it starts with quiet, clean guitar parts and proceeds to get much heavier, while still featuring primarily clean vocals.
All in all, Hand of Blood is a masterfully crafted EP by a band that is very worthy of the recognition they received following its release. Every track on this EP is worth a listen by anyone; fans of the band and non-fans alike.