Looking Back

Bullet For My Valentine talk 20 years of The Poison

The Welsh metalcore kings reflect on their debut album ahead of their 2025 co-headline tour with Trivium

At the beginning of 2005, heavy music was ready for a change.

The spiky frosted tips, baggy jeans, and backwards-turned baseball caps of the nu-metal craze were dwindling in popularity. The sonic supernova that catapulted the likes of Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Linkin Park to global mega-star status at the turn of the millennium was evolving.

Heavy music had become increasingly oversaturated with seven-string guitars, samples, and scratched turntables, but something new was preparing to dominate the airwaves. A fusion of metal and hardcore punk from across the Atlantic – metalcore was making its breakthrough.  

Fast, heavy, and surging with anger, Killswitch Engage had recently unleashed their genre-defining 2004 album The End Of Heartache, their first release with formidable vocalist Howard Jones. Over in Orange County, Avenged Sevenfold and Bleeding Through were leading a flourishing metalcore scene, whilst in Florida, Trivium were hard at work in the studio bringing their breakthrough album Ascendancy to life. Meanwhile – in the Welsh valleys – a newly signed Bullet For My Valentine were eagerly watching the revolution unfold, ready to seize their moment.

Bullet For My Valentine - 4 Words (To Choke Upon) (Official Video)

“There was definitely something going on… something weird,” lead guitarist Michael ‘Padge’ Paget reflects.

“There was a click, a connection. There was something brewing, and it felt like we were in the right place at the right time.”

Formed as Jeff Killed John in 1998, the four Bridgend boys had been plugging away within the local metalcore scene for over half a decade. Rechristened Bullet For My Valentine after recruiting bassist Jason ‘Jay’ James to their ranks, the band – completed by vocalist/guitarist Matt Tuck and drummer Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas – signed a five-album deal with Sony. 

Their 2004 self-titled five-track EP leading them to share stages with the likes of Anthrax and 36 Crazyfists, by the end of the year they knew they were onto something.

“It was all or nothing, so we gave it everything we had,” Padge nods.

“I had a mortgage, and I had a good job at the time. I was finally bringing in good money, but I had to quit my job to pursue music. I couldn’t afford my mortgage and my parents had to help me out for a couple of months because I had absolutely nothing, but we had to take our chance.”

As the new year rolled around, Bullet For My Valentine told their label that they had enough songs written to start working on a debut album, only there was a slight dilemma – they didn’t. With every song in their notebooks already recorded and released as part of their early EPs, the foursome had just a handful of ideas, but they needed to capitalise on metalcore’s moment.

Concealing their white lie from the label and roughly piecing together demos in Newport before heading to Chapel Studios in rural Lincolnshire to work with esteemed producer Colin Richardson (Machine Head, Napalm Death), the band’s debut album – The Poison – was brought to life. Thirteen songs radiating with innocence and raw hunger, it would come to change their lives, propelling the Welsh band to dizzy heights on the modern metal scene. 

“Working on The Poison was our first real time away from home, and we were working with these big industry names in a professional studio with a real budget. It was an eye-opening experience,” Padge nods.

“Colin can hear the hairs on a fly’s back. He’d stop the recording for the tiniest of things, and that really made the difference. We couldn’t have created the album that we did without someone like him.”

Bullet For My Valentine - Suffocating Under Words Of Sorrow (What Can I Do) (Video)

Bridging the gap between emo and metalcore with a hardened edge, The Poison spearheaded a new wave of British heavy music. From the throat-shredding screams of ‘Her Voice Resides’, through ‘Tears Don’t Fall’s anthemic chorus, all the way into the dramatic final moments of colourful closer ‘The End’, The Poison defined a generation of metalcore. Coloured by a fearless naivety and marking a vital turning point in the scene’s history, as their debut album approaches its 20th anniversary – Bullet For My Valentine are in the mood for reminiscing.

Heading out on a UK co-headline arena run with Trivium in 2025, they’re set to bring the metal tour of the year. The Welsh band playing The Poison in full, with Trivium doing the same with Ascendancy to mark 20 years since their own release, it’s a celebration of two albums that outlined the DNA of modern metal. 

“I remember steering wheel drumming to Ascendancy whist we were working on The Poison, and that album changed my life,” Padge smiles.

“At the time that the album came out though, I was super jealous. Trivium were doing exactly what I wanted Bullet to do, so I kept asking when our time would come. It wasn’t long after that we got our chance, of course, so it’s incredible to be able to do this tour together 20 years later.”

Once The Poison was unveiled to the world in October 2005, Bullet For My Valentine’s feet didn’t touch the ground. Scaling to Number 21 in the UK Top 40, Padge used his first pay check to buy a new car, and by the time they’d played a sold-out Brixton Academy in January, he really knew he’d made it.

“We played Download Festival in 2005 on the Snickers Stage, which was the second biggest stage at the festival. I’ll never forget that moment because that’s when I realised that people were singing the words back to us. People knew our songs, and they loved them. It was such a special realisation,” the guitarist remembers.

“Shortly after that, our childhood heroes were requesting us to support them, and everything happened so fast. We toured with Guns N’ Roses, we supported Metallica, and we spent two weeks touring Canada with Iron Maiden. It was so surreal. We’d be sat in our dressing room and Lars Ulrich would walk in with a bowl of fruit asking us how things were going.”

A whirlwind journey that catapulted their lives from 0 to 100, with little time to pause and reflect back then, in 2025 Bullet For My Valentine will take it all in on a well-deserved victory lap. An opportunity to finally bask in the hard work carried out by their younger selves, the ‘Poisoned Ascendancy’ tour will celebrate the legacy of two bands who’ve spent the last twenty years inspiring people to pick up their first guitar.

“We’ve all got 20 years on us now, so it’s an opportunity to go back in time and feel a little bit younger again,” Padge finishes.

“I can’t wait to revisit my youth, and for me, being able to listen to Trivium play Ascendancy every night will be a dream come true. My hope is that there are people out there who feel that way about The Poison, and I hope these shows can be a special moment for others to revisit their youth too.”

Bullet For My Valentine join Trivium on the Posioned Ascendancy tour in January 2025. Tickets are on sale now here.

Photo credit: Eamonn McCormack/WireImage, and Jo Hale