As vocalist for Bullet For My Valentine, Matt Tuck has played to thousands of fans around the world as his band headlined clubs, arenas and even festivals. Once dubbed "the next Metallica", Bullet can still lay claim to being one of the biggest metal bands to emerge from Britain since Iron Maiden.
"Well, anyone that had even a bit of hype around 2006 was the next Metallica," Matt jokes. "But to be named in the same breath as them, people clearly felt there was some connection and energy that went between us and I find that fascinating and beautiful – I’m not going to say it didn’t feel nice to read those headlines, but nobody is the next Metallica, are they? Nobody is doing what they did and achieving what they have, regardless of how good they are or how long they’ve been around. That kind of ascendancy is long gone.”
Humble as he is, we asked Matt to pick out the ten records that shaped his life. "It wasn't easy," he admits. "But these bands were the ones that came in at the start of my journey and made me who I am – as a musician, but also as a fan.”
1. Pantera – Vulgar Display Of Power (1992)
“I was about 14 or 15 when Vulgar Display Of Power came out and Pantera are just such a class band, it’s probably my favourite record by a mile. The production, the songwriting, the aggression, Dimebag’s shredding… what’s not to love? A New Level is complete savagery at its best and had a huge impact on me. I was always into lots of metal bands at the time, but when I discovered Pantera there was nothing else like it, it was a kick in the nuts. They were competing with the nu metal bands in the 90s and there were just no fucks given. An epic band.”
2. Sepultura – Roots (1996)
“Sepultura's Roots was a real discovery album for me – I hadn’t heard anything like it at the time. The production on that record particularly is so nasty – there’s nothing polished or pretty. It was almost the moment they absorbed the nu metal sound, so it was a huge moment for the genre at that time. They were so unique and were coming off the back of a lot more thrash metal oriented stuff, but stuff like Cut-Throat is pure down-tuned nastiness. Nothing compared to it.
The whole album is so crushing – it’s so dirty you want to wash your ears out after it. They were one of the first proper metal bands I saw live as well in 1996 – I have a real affinity and attachment to that band. I’d seen bands before them like Metallica and hard rock stuff, but this was my first no holds barred metal show in Newport Centre in Wales.”
3. Limp Bizkit – Three Dollar Bill Y’All (1997)
“I discovered Limp Bizkit around the time Three Dollar Bill Y’all came out, they were supporting Korn at the Newport Centre. At that point they were new and not as commercial or poppy as they’d later be so that album is a lot more like Roots in terms of being dirty and heavy. There’s something about that when bands aren’t trying to sound clean or popular, they’re just doing what they do and that whole Ross Robinson era of nu metal bands just captured my imagination.
It’s almost punk rock with how dirty it is, but they were also very different; there’s a lot of groove and they had Fred Durst, who did a lot more rapping on it. It was less serious but just as heavy and intense. The show was phenomenal, I was finally able to go to shows on my own with my mates and we had no idea who they were, but two or three songs in they played Counterfeit and it was like ‘this is so fucking cool’. It was party vibes, but heavy metal – not like the bands you’d get at the time at all. They actually took the shine off Korn for me at the time – how could anyone follow that?”
4. Slipknot – Slipknot (1999)
“I really love that whole mid-90s, early 2000s era of metal where the production is not polished and not pretty. Slipknot’s debut album is a great example; it’s very raw, visceral and intense and as soon as I heard it, it was like a punch in the face. Like, ‘what the fuck is this band?’ Everything else I listened to was more polished and traditional, so having something like Scissors really changed how I felt about metal. It’s ‘orrible, in the best possible way.
As soon as I got into music and into heavy metal, the journey of discovery let me know that’s what I wanted to do – I wanted to be on-stage, screaming my head off and playing guitar. It was something instilled in me from a very early age and I dedicated my life to it until 2002, 2003 when people started properly sniffing around the band and then we got an EP out and the rest is history.”
5. Korn – Korn (1994)
“I remember hearing Korn's Daddy on their debut album for the first time and I didn’t get it at all. I didn’t understand what it was they were trying to do and then as I listened to it more and saw the videos they were putting out where you’d see the band on tour and behind the scenes. It reminded me of me and the boys, just friends trying to make the music they love.
They weren’t supposed to make it and nobody handed them anything, but they were the sound of a generation. That whole down-tuned seven-string guitar thing with these insane vocals where Jonathan Davis is basically breaking down in the booth. It was so dangerous and raw, but for a 14-year old me I couldn’t understand it and it wasn’t until I got older and grew with the band that I realised just how amazing that album is. It still stands the test of time.”
6. Metallica – Metallica (1991)
“Metallica's Black Album is the ultimate reason why I’m in a band. The whole album is iconic and very down-tempo, there’s no real moments of speed but Holier Than Thou is the one track that really takes it back to what they’d been doing on …And Justice For All and the previous stuff. They had these shredding solos, but that song is a highlight for me.”
7. Killswitch Engage – Alive Or Just Breathing (2002)
“Killswitch Engage’s Alive Or Just Breathing was just becoming really popular right as Bullet For My Valentine were first becoming a thing. We weren’t necessarily the same stylistically, but what they were trying to do was what we wanted to as well – a modern, aggressive twist on classic heavy metal songs with aggressive riffs, massive choruses and loads of riffs, just like you’d hear on Last Serenade. Trying to bring heavy metal kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.
Alive Or Just Breathing was huge for me – as much of a connection as I’d had with Korn or Metallica, there was something more relatable about Killswitch for me in terms of who they were, where they came from and the kind of music that had inspired them. It was like ‘these guys get it’. They were a big part of how Bullet’s sound became what it did.”
8. Machine Head – Burn My Eyes (1994)
“I remember just how much of an impact Machine Head's Old had on me – I just stood dumbstruck like ‘what is this? Wow!’ Again, the production of it, the sound of the drums, guitar tones, the aggression… what a debut record. Burn My Eyes is probably my favourite debut record of all time. I can’t see anything else that could beat it.
That album set out unmistakeably who Machine Head were and had a huge impact on who Bullet would become – not that we tried to be them, but something about them was so heavy it inspired us. That album is why we downtuned our guitars, it’s why we worked with [producer] Colin Richardson. It’s iconic and Robb [Flynn] is still doing it today, playing three-hour sets. What is this man made of?!”
9. Deftones – Adrenaline (1995)
Root by Deftones is very different stylistically to what I was drawn to growing up, but I discovered them through the Limp Bikit/Korn connection. The first song I heard was actually Bored and I didn’t like it – it was too simple, too stonery and slow.
I got the album though and discovered other stuff that was more high energy and did a lot with the guitars that really made me a fan of it. I’ve been a fan ever since – nobody else sounds like Deftones. Lots of bands have been influenced by them and taken on that style, but they can’t actually do it like Deftones do.”
10. Slayer – Divine Intervention (1994)
“How can you not listen to Slayer when you’re 15 and full of anger and energy? They are what they are and have never been anything else and good on them. Dittohead is a gnarly song from the Divine Intervention album and just goes right from the first second. There’s no building or trying to be cool or inventive, it’s pure Slayer style.
Tom Araya’s vocal is unmistakeable and I struggled to get my ears and head around it at first because it’s such a pure punch to the face of an album. They’re Slayer – one of the best that’s ever been and I’m gutted they called it a day when they did as they had so much life still in them.”