Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Black Veil Brides' 'Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones' - Album Review

Since releasing their debut album in 2010, Black Veil Brides have come a long way. From cult status to poster boys of a whole new generation of metal fans, they have continued to impress with solid albums and relentless touring. Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones is the band's third album and easily their most ambitious yet. It is a concept album telling the story of a group of rebels rising up against a powerful organisation called F.E.A.R. - and there is a film version of the story called Legion of the Black which expands on the story told in the album and adds more details. While the story itself is extremely unoriginal, it helps to create a dark atmosphere throughout the album and focuses the lyrics. On this album, the band has retained their key sound: a mixture of metalcore, hair metal and classic rock and it is instantly recognisable as them. The harsh vocals of the previous two albums are gone and frontman Andrew Biersack's melancholic voice has much more gravitas as a result. Throughout the album, many short instrumental and spoken interludes help the story along and Aiden's Wil Francis provides the voice of the leader of F.E.A.R.

The album gets off to a great start with the fast-paced I Am Bulletproof. From the outset, this is an album that focuses on great guitar work. Duelling lead guitars open the song before Biersack's gravelly voice takes over and lifts the song to anthemic heights. The chorus is instantly catchy and memorable - one made for the live arena. The second half of the song features some great machine gun drumming from Christian Coma before a shredding guitar solo cuts through the sound. Next up is New Years Day which is a much more mid-paced affair. Lead by a driving bassline from Ashley Purdy, the song marches along aided by gang vocals and another great chorus. Rhythm guitarist Jinxx as a little violin solo to the track, which adds some welcome variety and there is another memorable guitar solo from Jake Pitts. After a spoken work piece, the title track comes raging out of the speakers with some harmonsed lead guitars and some great drumming from Coma that sees him use his whole kit. The guitar work barely lets up throughout the track and the arpeggios under the vocals in the chorus are just what was needed. Next up is We Don't Belong which is another anthemic piece that would make a great single. After a mellow intro, the song builds with a slow drum beat, then some quiet guitars and violin before the whole band comes in for the huge chorus that will no doubt have crowds screaming it at their concerts. The guitar solo in this song makes great use of melody and speed to create something quite unique, showing what a great and inventive guitarist Pitts is.

The next highlight is Resurrect the Sun which sounds like nothing the band have done before. A piano-led intro interspersed with electronics suddenly explodes into a real rocker with some great vocal melodies. This song represents the light and shade of the band, as delicate passages are mixed with some of the heaviest moments on their album with more gang vocals and another great guitar solo that brings to mind Yngwie Malmsteen. Days are Numbered is possibly my favourite song on the album. Opening with a great riff and infectious chorus, the song is a real classic. The chorus is easily the best on the album and the whole song just has a great swaggering attitude. The Used's Bert McCracken also lends his vocal talents to this track. With the album coming to a close, Lost It All is another stand-out track. Is is a real slow-burner with plenty of piano, strings and gospel-style vocals. In a way it reminds me of Nine Inch Nail's Hurt - it does not really sound like it but the melodies are quite similar in places. In an age where so many metal bands are avoiding ballads, this is a real breath of fresh air and shows that bands still have what it takes to tug at the heartstrings. The album comes to a close with first single In The End which is very similar to the sort of songs found on their previous album Set the World on Fire. The duelling lead guitars are back with a vengeance and Biersack sings his heart out through one more excellent chorus. Overall, this a great album that will surely help Black Veil Brides climb even higher in the current metal world. While it is not as immediately memorable as their previous albums, repeated listens reward you with many hidden gems that I have not had time to talk about here. Well worth checking out!

The album was released on 8th January 2013 via Lava/Universal Republic Records. Below is the band's promotional video for In The End.

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