Thursday, 27 November 2014

Black Veil Brides' 'Black Veil Brides' - Album Review

Like the last band I featured on this blog, Amaranthe, Black Veil Brides' last album only came out last year. Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones (see my review of that album here) was the band's third album, and one that attempted to break the mould a little. The band's previous two albums had been rather straight ahead affairs, with plenty of catchy melodies and crunchy guitar riffs. On their last album, the band tried to branch out a little. The album was a concept album that followed a story, with lots of interludes and a varying songwriting style throughout. For a mainstream metal band, it was an ambitious album that got more right than wrong. For me however, it is an album that has not stood up as well over time, and I feel that while some of the songs there are excellent, there are lots of moments that seem to drag on slightly which do tarnish the album as a whole. This, the band's fourth album, sees them trying to return to the sound that brought them much success on 2011's Set the World on Fire with mixed results. One the one hand, there are a few really excellent songs on this album that reach the heights the band have become known for. These songs are well produced, full of soaring melodies, and have a certain sparkle that was lacking on many of the numbers on the band's previous album. On the other hand however, the rest of the album lacks any real hooks and falls flat as a result. For a band that has written and released four albums in four years however, this is hardly surprising. While Black Veil Brides are a prolific and hard working band, I feel we are seeing the law of diminishing returns in full swing here. While I am sure that die-hard fans of the band will lap this up greedily, those more casual fans (like myself) might struggle with some of the blander material here. The band's decision to team up with legendary producer Bob Rock was a winner though. Known for producing bands of the calibre of Mötley Crüe and Metallica, he knows how to make a metal record sound great. The production and overall sound of the album cannot be faulted, and it is easily the band's best produced album so far. It is just a shame that the songwriting here seems slightly rushed and uninspired in places. Still, there are enough good songs present to make the album worth a try.

The album's first two songs are very good. Single Heart of Fire opens with a strident 1980s rock riff before frontman Andy Biersack's smooth vocals come in. He has always reminded me of HIM's Ville Valo in places, and it is his understated vocals that help to create the band's sound. Jake Pitts fills the gaps between vocals with plenty of neat little guitar leads, and the song's chorus is very strong with lots of big harmony backing vocals and catchy vocal melodies from Biersack. He even unleashes a few screams, which reminds me of the band's 2010 debut album We Stitch These Wounds. Faithless is another great song with a slightly thrashy riff that maintains as the song builds up around it. Christian Coma's simple, yet fast drumming, helps the mood of the song and the sleazy verses make the most of the grittier end of Biersack's voice. Like the previous song, this has a really strong chorus that is brilliant live, and gives the fans plenty of chances to sing along. A heavy breakdown mid way through the song soon explodes into a fluid guitar solo that gives Pitts a chance to show off his skills. The guitar interplay between him and Jinxx is always really tight, and this breakdown shows it. Devil in the Mirror is not bad, but lacks the power of the two preceding songs. Coma's drumming throughout the verses is impressive though, with a good mish-mash of rhythms. The guitar work is good too, with lots of nice little melodic interludes from the two players. The song's chorus lacks the soaring quality of the previous two though, and this is what lets it down. For me, Goodbye Agony, sees a rather large drop in quality. The song is a rather twee power ballad that lacks the emotion and huge hooks that these songs need. The verses are made up of mournful piano lines with Biersack's vocals, but it fails to capture the spirit of the 1980s classics. Things pick up slightly during the chorus, which has more power, but it drops short of what it tries to achieve. World of Sacrifice is an improvement. It is a driving rocker that steams along at a nice pace. The twin lead guitar riffs are enjoyable and Biersack sounds really great during the verses as Coma's percussive drumming helps speed the song along. The chorus is slightly over-dramatic however, which does not really fit with the more stripped-back verses. Last Rites ramps the quality up again. The song has a nice, chunky riff that is sure to get heads banging, and it fits well with Biersack's gritty delivery. The pre-chorus is really melodic and interesting, with Biersack and the guitars following a nice pattern, and Pitts' solo towards the end is fast and full of excellent shredding. This is bread and butter for the band, but it is catchy!

Stolen Omen is similar. The main riff has something of modern Trivium about it, with some nice double bass pedal patterns from Coma to back up the tight riffing. Biersack makes more use of the harsh vocals here too, which have some really good effects on them to make them sound really gruff and underground. The chorus is a big contrast to this, as Biersack soars and uses the most melodic side of his voice to really project the powerful vocals. The guitar solo has a real 1980s vibe, with lots of dive-bombs and vibrato. It is cliché as anything, but it is clear to see where the band's main influences lie. Walk Away sees another drop in quality. The song is actually quite similar to Goodbye Agony with lots of piano and an overwrought atmosphere. The song makes use of lots of orchestral elements, so bits of it end up sounding like the interludes on the band's previous album. There is a good guitar solo though, and the key change afterwards is so ridiculous that you cannot help but smile. You would think that this would be the end, but no there is another good couple of minutes of piano build-up and more soloing. While none of this is intrinsically bad, it just seems slightly forced. The song is quite long, and it does outstay it's welcome by the end. Drag me to the Grave is great however and really gets the album back on track. While the 'woahwoah' vocal parts are a little silly, the rest of the song is real quality. The riffing is dirty, with plenty of pinch harmonics thrown in to give it that modern metal feel. Biersack really owns the chorus too, with some really delicious vocal melodies; and Pitts' solo is once again really strong. It is probably my favourite song on the album, and is hopefully one the band will play live for years to come. The Shattered God is another enjoyable number. The chorus is deceivingly catchy, and the riffing is really solid throughout. It is another song that has a strong 1980s vibe with some really tight twin guitar leads and lots of double kick drumming that still keeps the song at a mid-pace. The end of the song is a real guitar workout however, with a short burst of speed shredding that brings the song to a close. Crown of Thorns is the album's last song and it makes a good effort to see that the album goes out on a high. The verses are really strong, and the chorus attempts the epic and just about manages it. It lacks the power of some of the other songs here, but it has a good 'final song' vibe to it, and it rounds the album out nicely. Overall, Black Veil Brides is an enjoyable record that is let down in places by a few poorer numbers. If the band did not continually rush to release new music, they could probably be able create a really classic album. This is no classic, but it is fun.

The album was released on 27th October 2014 via Lava/Universal Republic Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Heart of Fire.

No comments:

Post a Comment