The only good thing that can be said for Scream, Aim, Fire, the sophomore release from Bullet for My Valentine, is that it isn’t any worse than the average metalcore album. That may be because Scream, Aim, Fire doesn’t attempt to be any more than an average metalcore album. Every aspect of the album, from the predictable chord progression to the boring songwriting to the unbearably pointless lyrics, features the same overdone techniques that were found on Bullet for My Valentine’s debut, not to mention countless albums before. Scream, Aim, Fire is the type of forgettable mess that makes absolutely no attempt to differentiate itself from the rest of what’s out there, but what’s worse is that it doesn’t even make an attempt to be any better than what else is out there using even the most generic of formulas. Bullet for My Valentine seems completely content with using only the basic metalcore conventions and then running them into the ground.
When a band relies on generic conventions on their debut album, it can be at least somewhat tolerated. However, there needs to be at least some sort of attempt at progression over time. That, in essence, is the worst and most prominent flaw with Scream, Aim, Fire. Not only is there absolutely no progression to speak of, but there isn’t even a sign of an attempt at furthering their sound. After 30 seconds of this album, you’ve heard everything there is to hear. The formula is simply all too familiar and even more basic. The instrumentals follow a pattern of generic riff followed by breakdown followed by generic riff, and so on. The vocals are the run-of-the-mill mixture of clean and harsh that becomes predictable within the first seconds and never strays from that throughout the rest of the album. The clean vocals are comprised of the usual one-note off-key singing that Bullet for My Valentine shares with nearly every other band played on MTV these days. The harsh vocals are even more generic, as they lack any sort of passion or emotion. The vocals simply sound artificial. The same can be said for every other aspect of the album, and there gets to a point when Scream, Aim, Fire becomes depressingly pointless. Every song is nearly identical to the last, and there’s barely any variety to speak. The lyrics aren’t even worth mentioning, as their only point seems to be to incorporate an aspect of every popular trend in modern rock music.
There are slight moments where Scream, Aim, Fire breaks the generic mold that the album is comprised of. “Deliver Us From Evil,” for example has moments that venture away from the album’s strictly formulaic sound, albeit only slightly. Even though the track still contains much of the generic conventions that plague the rest of the songs, it at least shows signs of progression. The same cannot be said for the rest of the album, however. “Hearts Burst Into Fire" may start out with an acoustic intro, but it quickly starts to sound all too familiar. “Waking the Demon” is another track that has its moments, as it’s easily the heaviest song on the album, but playing the same generic song in a slightly heavier way is only praise when compared to many other tracks here that are even less worthy of praise.
It’s unfortunate that the few times Scream, Aim, Fire does try something different, it always returns to safety. There are hundreds of other equally safe and generic metalcore albums that have been released over the years, and the fact that Bullet for My Valentine is still relying on this formulaic sound in 2008 makes this a very difficult album to recommend. Unless you absolutely love generic metalcore, there is no reason to listen to this album. It’s been done before, and more importantly, it’s been done better. Granted, there are worse metalcore albums out there, but it may be better to try and fail than to achieve mediocrity without trying at all.
Key tracks: Scream Aim Fire, Waking the Demon, Deliver Us From Evil