Bullet For My Valentine / While She Sleeps / Coldrain

Welsh metallers get too tight with the programme

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The Hexagon is not the usual environment you’d find an arena-headlining metal band. In fact, with its unusually helpful staff and cake stall, it’s a little bit too polite for this type of music full stop.

Luckily **COLDRAIN [7] are good enough to transcend their surroundings and make it feel like a rock show. Their state of the art, post-millennial metal is primed to be massive, with new album Vena stocked full of corkers, and tonight they make a lot of new friends with a confident, domineering performance. You wish the same could be said of WHILE SHE SLEEPS [8]**. Where Coldrain impressed the early birds by sharing many of tonight’s headliners’ traits, Sleeps scare the bejeezus out of them with an awe-inspiring display of outright aggression. Chucking in the title track of excellent latest album Brainwashed early on, a song that has got THE best riff of the year, sets the bar that they never fall below. By the time Four Walls finishes they leave triumphant, but you can’t help wondering why the crowd aren’t lapping it up more.

Maybe they are saving themselves for the headliners. After all it isn’t every day you get to see BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE [7] in a venue as intimate as this – although the sight of a half-empty balcony as they walk on stage is a bit of a concern, especially when, theoretically at least, Bullet looked to have recovered from the poor reaction to Temper Temper with the much improved Venom album. And there is certainly a cracking atmosphere as Venom’s opening single No Way Out begins a set that is slick, professional, very often enjoyable, but that never transcends into being something as special as you imagined it should have been. Quite why is hard to put your finger on.

The setlist is varied, new tracks like You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War) and old favourites Your Betrayal and Tears Don’t Fall all sounding great, and the stage show is simple yet always engaging, but BFMV seem emotionally detached onstage. Possibly Matt Tuck and co being such a well-oiled machine has stripped them of a level of relatability. This close to them, with the whites of their eyes in our sights, it’s hard to see much more than a group going through the usual routine. Which is as unusual in metal as the venue we find ourselves in.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.