BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE – Jäähalli (Ice Hall) Black Box, Helsinki, 12.11.2015

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We can’t believe how long it’s been since we’ve seen Bullet for My Valentine! Fortunately, their Venom European Tour brought them recently through Helsinki to Jäähalli’s Black Box on November 12th, 2015, and we were able to catch them for both an interview and were able to see what the first-ever black box gig was like!

Don’t forget to give our interview with Jamie Mathias a read as well!

2015.11.12 BfMV (5)BfMV were the first band to try out a Black Box gig at Jäähalli – a special event where they covered up the stadium’s seated areas with black curtains but kept the floor open, making the stadium feel like a big club. Though some people felt that something more could have been done with the place, I really liked it. The place felt like a bigger version of Mac Hall back in Calgary (Canada) where most metal bands play – it had kind of a nostalgic feel for me. Plus, The Circus would’ve been far too small for a gig of this magnitude, but opening the walls would’ve been too much.

The night opened with, surprisingly enough, a young-ish band from Japan called coldrain. They had a really promising instrumental intro track followed by fairly good post-hardcore rock music. It’s been a long time since I saw a half-decent opening band, and these guys did quite well on that front. It turns out they recently released an album, Vena, in October and are now touring with Bullet for My Valentine to promote the release. The last few songs, “Gone” and “The War is On,” both caught my ear a bit and I found myself nodding along. All-in-all, I was fairly impressed with them in spite of their genre not being top of my list.

coldrain’s set was fairly short, only about half an hour, and they were followed by While She Sleeps, a metalcore/thrash band from Sheffield in the UK. We were a bit worried about the sound because we heard the guys at the sound booth murmuring about some concerns, but they were quickly wiped from our minds as the show started. If there had been any issues with the sound quality, they were fixed, because the music sounded great pretty much from the get-go.

These guys were a band that I’ve heard of but haven’t actually listened to, and again I got lucky. They were pretty hard n’ heavy, but they had some nice melodies in their music to even things out. Sadly, they had a perfect feel for a good mosh pit, but the crowd hadn’t woken up and the pit was dreadfully, dreadfully sad. Whoever was talking with the crowd at any point, be it Lawrence “Loz” Taylor (vocals) or Sean Long (guitars), they were a ton of fun, asking where the afterparty was, and could they come smoke the crowd’s weed?

Looking at some promo photos of them, we thought they looked like hooligans, and we were right. They encouraged people to “make the security guards work” by crowdsurfing, for one. They also told the girls in the crowd to get up on the shoulders of the guys, and if the guys had just come with other guys, well, hop on their guy friend’s shoulders anyway, who cares! Also, Loz came to sing right into the crowd and flopped down into their welcoming arms, only to be unable to sing for a while as he gathered himself up again. One of them later chucked his mic stand into the crowd towards the end. The moral of this gig was that if you’re anywhere up near the front at a While She Sleeps show, you had better keep your eyes open!

2015.11.12 BfMV (4)Sadly, they had to leave the stage, but for the greater good, because it was time for Bullet for My Valentine to come out! Thunderstruck by AC/DC (which is admittedly a pretty cheesy choice) brought the lights down and the crowd up to the front, and they opened the show with “V,” followed by “No Way Out.” Intro + first track off a new album is always a solid choice for me, even if “No Way Out” isn’t an overly hard-hitter to kick things off. It’s a good song, but not a truly epic one. No matter, it was still a good choice.

The set followed a really solid pattern, switching to an older track, and then perhaps their most hard-hitting and, in my opinion, best new song, “You Want a Battle? Here’s a War!” One of the immediate highlights was the new bassist, Jamie Mathias. He did a fair share of the backing vocals and growls and his voice and performance were both fantastic. He fit the band like a glove – if I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought he had been with them from the beginning.

2015.11.12 BfMV (3)After “You Want a Battle? Here’s a War,” they took a brief break to welcome the crowd and thank them for coming out, before they would “kick up the tempo” with “Raising Hell.” I was quite pleased with the selection of tracks off the new album – “Venom,” “Worthless,” and “Army of Noise” were also great choices. One could argue they might have thrown one or two more tracks off Venom in there to get a full feel for the new material.

Fortunately, the crowd did get their collective energy up for these guys and the pits were vastly improved throughout the show as well. “Scream Aim Fire” brought out what was the first truly enthusiastic moshpit of the night. The pits looked like they had some fresh young metalheads in them – perhaps some teenagers were trying out moshing for the first time. They asked the crowd who had seen them before and who was a first-timer, and the crowd did seem pretty even in that regard.

BfMV @Jäähalli Black Box, 2015
BfMV @Jäähalli Black Box, 2015

It’s worth noting that this was my first time seeing these guys, as I’ve never been able to fit them into my schedule the last few times they’ve been in Helsinki. Something that I noted about their show was that it wasn’t particularly polished, and I mean that in a good way. Matt Tuck (vocals) was doing as he pleased with the songs, not necessarily staying true to the album. It’s no fun to be at a show that sounds exactly like listening to the album, so it’s nice to see that there was a bit of room for random improvisation in their music.

Towards the end, they paused once more to introduce their openers and thank everyone for coming out in support of all three bands. They dedicated “Tears Don’t Fall” to their fans, which received a lot of screams and cheers and jumping up and down. The closed out the night with “Hand of Blood,” but naturally had to come back for two more: “Your Betrayal” and “Waking the Demon.” While it would have been nice to hear “Fever,” or “All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me),” but in a limited timeframe, what can you do?

One last note, and I’m sure I sound like a broken record with this, but a shout-out to the light technician – in a packed place like this where it can be tough to see the stage, lights become an even bigger bonus. When you can’t see the band, at least there’s something nice to look at, and the lights were truly wonderful.

2015.11.12 BfMV (6)To put it rather bluntly, this was a fun show. They aren’t the liveliest or most active band on stage, but their song choices were pretty solid for the time limit they played in, and they have a definite charm on stage. As well, the addition of Jamie Mathias was clearly a fantastic choice and I’m looking forward to hearing some new songs that he’s helped to write in the future!

Setlist:
1. V (intro)
2. No Way Out
3. 4 Words (To Choke Upon)
4. You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War)
5. Raising Hell
6. Scream Aim Fire
7. The Poison
8. The Last Fight
9. Venom
10. Alone
11. Worthless
12. Guitar solo
13. Army of Noise
14. Tears Don’t Fall
15. Hand of Blood

Encore:
1. Your Betrayal
2. Waking the Demon

Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Jana Blomqvist

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