In the spirit of full disclosure, I first became aware of Black Veil Brides in 2011 when my then-13 year old niece tried to turn me on to them by placing their new album ‘Set The World On Fire’ into my cars CD player. I explained to her that they were not my cup of tea but I let the CD play, when we got to lunch, I asked to see the CD case. First off, I could tell at first glance upon the CD cover that they were highly influenced by early Mötley Crüe and probably, KISS…..upon researching the band after lunch, I was right! At least Black Veil Brides weren’t trying to pass themselves and their look off as original!
After a few more tunes on the car ride back, they weren’t so bad but I wasn’t sold like my niece was. I made my mind up they’d have an album or two more released, if that and once the 13 year old Hot Topic female consumers grew older, they’d be on to another trend & Black Veil Brides would have been just another flavor-of-the-month with the mall crowd. Out of sight, out of mind went the Black Veil Brides!
Fast forward to May 2, 2013. I tuned in to Revolver’s 2013 Golden Gods Awards, stoked to see Anthrax with Rex & Phil from Pantera, Danzig and Metallica perform. Then during the telecast, Black Veil Brides won the award for “Song Of The Year” and Andy went off on those who disliked the band. While I got while he did it, I thought it was pretty stupid to be verbally going after people in the crowd who if they were able to get on stage, would probably tear him apart. Once again, out of sight, out of mind after that night until June 18, 2013.
That night, I sat down at the computer for my internet version of “Must See TV” & my weekly viewing of the KISS-oriented podcast/YouTube show, Three Sides Of The Coin! At the time, the show was hosted by Michael Brandvold, who used to run KISSOnline(dot)com, Tommy Sommers and one of my all-time favorite journalists, Mitch Lafon! (NOTE:Mitch has since left the show to pursue other journalistic endeavors and has been replaced by Mega-KISS fan/collector, Mark Cicchini!) Surprise, surprise, the special guest was Andy Biersack of Black Veil Brides. I contemplated just skipping this episode after being annoyed with his rant at the awards show but I decided that Andy may be a decent guest plus I hadn’t missed an webisode of TSOTC. Glad I watched it, I was impressed by Andy’s demeanor, his maturity, which he didn’t seem to display just a month prior & his knowledge and opinion on anything music.
Fast forward a year and a half later, the guys at TSOTC are still singing the praises of Black Veil Brides as they released a new album. I thought, what the hell, so I checked out the videos for ‘Heart Of Fire’ & ‘Goodbye Agony’ and was pleasantly shocked by the growth and *gasp!* maturity of the band since I’d last listened to them so I purchased their new album from Best Buy since they offered a bonus track. Here is my track-by-track review of the self-titled offering from Black Veil Brides!
The first single and video from the album, ‘Heart Of Fire’ is also the albums lead off track & it quickly sets the tone for the majority of the album. It is a uptempo rocker with a punk tinge to the drumming. Bob Rock did a fantastic job getting the best vocal performances from Andy. His vocals here are crisp and even his scream/growl at the 2:06 mark has a sonic depth to it that most metal bands lack. Andy’s scream/growl lead to some Pantera-esque riffage the segues into a blazing classical metal solo that caught my attention. Is ‘Faithless’ starting out with an homage to circa-1984 Metallica or is an homage to AC/DC? I’ll have to ask Andy when I interview him! The NWOBHM riffs in conjunction with the bells are stellar then the songs kicks in to overdrive. The song is a relentless display of being heavy yet melodic. Christian’s drumming on this track should get drummers to take notice and give him his just due. Another sweet solo by Jake…..just wished it would have been longer but he made his point & didn’t overstay his welcome but I must add, nice use of pinch harmonics! Andy changes up his vocal approach in ‘Devil In The Mirror’ on the verses before heading back to familiar vocal territory in the choruses, while the bands gang vocal chants in the breakdowns add a nice touch to the tune. I really like the way he approached this one vocally by using different registers of his voice to really show the emotion of his lyrical message. It helps set it apart from what the band is doing musically. Very well mixed by Bob Rock as well!
‘Goodbye Agony’ is THE song that convinced me to buy the album. Lyrically, it struck a nerve! I believe most people can relate to what is being said within the lyrics! Digg the intro guitar piece, how it builds then mellows out with a beautiful piano progression underneath Andy’s vocals! The choruses pick up the pace before settling down for the following verses. The guitar solo is very bluesy, nice! The song is as good as the lyrics, very well done guys, my hats off to you! Kickin’ up the pace is ‘World Of Sacrifice’. Yet another great song lyrically but musically, it seems to just follow the vocal delivery of the lyrics. Nothing sets it apart other than the lyrics. Well played but I think it is lacking something, just what, I don’t know. ‘Last Rites’ has a strong early-Metallica influence to parts of it after the initial intro & you can’t go wrong with that.
‘Stolen Omen’ has a more modern metal feel to it with a classical Metal guitar flavor to it. An interesting musical journey. Andy really goes guttural vocally in parts. A very Dimebag-esque divebomb solo caught my ears. Another piece of sonic perfection thanks to the bands talents and Bob Rock’s mixing abilities. ‘Walk Away’ would make a great choice for a single and I could only imagine the video someone like Wayne Isham or Samuel Bayer could make from this song! It just has an EPIC feel to it. Had someone played this song for me without telling me the artist, A) I would have bought the album on the strength of this tune and B) I NEVER would have guessed this was Black Veil Brides! Between the lyrics, vocals, the band, piano, orchestration & Bob Rock’s production and mixing, this song is damn near perfect. Jaw dropper….and surely, a panty dropper for the female audience!
‘Drag Me To The Grave’ is another rocker with a definite groove to it musically. Nice use of gang background vocals to accent parts of the tune. ‘Shattered God’ is another chugging rocker with some blistering guitars throughout. Andy’s vocals in the verses could have been a little “angrier” in my opinion but overall they work well. I just envision a bit more piss n’ vinegar to match the lyrical content. The normal edition of the album ends on a rocking note with ‘Crown Of The Thorns’. This song, to me, sums up all of the bands influences as I hear early Mötley Crüe & Metallica, some Randy Rhoads & Zakk Wylde and some Revenge & Carnival Of Souls Bruce Kulick lead KISS all wrapped up in a 3:40 minute rocker! ‘Sons Of Night [Best Buy Only Bonus Track]’ is a breakneck rocker that puts a nice exclamation point on a damn good hard rock/heavy metal album that even an old fogie like me thoroughly enjoyed.
Uptempo rockers, old school Metal riffs, hyper paced drums, chugging bass lines and Andy’s often-personal lyrics and emotive vocal performances dominate this album. I digg lyrics that are either personal or have some sort of meaning & it is obvious the band purged whatever was going on in their lives since the last album in to the lyrics!
Bob Rock’s talent behind-the-boards knows no end. There is no doubt, due to his reputation that he pushed them hard and it shows as he brought the very best out of the band. The growth of the band and the quality of this album has surprised even this old fart and no doubt, will end up on my “Top 14 Albums of 2014” list! After this offering, they have a fan in me, I will continue to buy their albums in the future & will be purchasing their back catalog and giving it an open-minded, fair listen! Thank you to Mike, Mitch, Tommy and Mark at Three Sides Of The Coin for turning my opinion of Black Veil Brides around! I just hope I can catch them live within the next year!
Released October 27, 2014
Lava Records/Universal Republic Records
Andy Biersack – lead vocals
Jake Pitts – lead guitar
Jeremy ‘Jinxx’ Ferguson – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, violin
Ashley Purdy – bass guitar, backing vocals
Christian ‘CC’ Coma – drums, percussion
John Webster – keyboards
Marc LaFrance, David Steele, Angie Fisher,Nikki Grier,and Tiffany Loren – backing vocals
Producer, Engineer & Mixer – Bob Rock
01. Heart Of Fire
03. Devil In The Mirror
04. Goodbye Agony
05. World Of Sacrifice
06. Last Rites
07. Stolen Omen
08. Walk Away
09. Drag Me To The Grave
10. Shattered God
11. Crown Of The Thorns
12. Sons Of Night [Best Buy Only Bonus Track]
Black Veil Brides – Goodbye Agony (Music Video)
Official Black Veil Brides Website
Order ‘Black Veil Brides’ on Amazon:
Official Three Sides Of The Coin Website