The new Black Veil Brides album starts with a narrator saying “The kingdom of God is inside you”. If you didn’t know any better you might think you had just put on a christian rock record. Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones is definitely a concept album. There is even a film that has been completed to go with it to be released this year.
But that isn’t the point really. The main focus on this band is their sound. BVB’s new album is a mix of many things from the rock, metal and pop worlds. From what I have seen so far this has lost them points with the devoted metal so-called hardcore. But sticking to one branch of one genre is kind of limiting isn’t it?
I actually previewed this album through Spotify on a whim having never heard of the band. What I got was a nice surprise. The first song “I Am Bulletproof” has a tough edge to it, with riffs out of the school of Metallica, a taste of AFI in recent years, maybe some Avenged Sevenfold, and actual *sung* metal lyrics. I understand the need to growl in some metal, but the number of singers that focus on actual melodic singing in past years has been sorely absent. This song turns thrash in the middle, somewhere in “One”-land. And positive lyrics.. a “shot to the New World Order”.
The theme here if you eliminate the narration seems to be wrestling with the emptiness left once religion and protective authority has betrayed you. Pretty relatable theme, as most of us have done some soul searching at one point or another. The second track, one of the most catchy, is called “New Year’s Day”. This one is more on the hard rock side, with some Nine Inch Nails “Terrible Lie” and some strings thrown in. Great dual guitar solo in this one.
The narration tells us of a big brother style organization called F.E.A.R., which comes up in the lyrics throughout. “Wretched and Devine” introduces us to our main cast of characters, a bunch called “the wretched”, and outside the storyline the song describes the feeling of being outcast from society. Ok so nothing new here but but the song has a heavy double bass drum kick procession to it and hits hard. “We Don’t Belong” kicks off with a Tim Burton-esque music box kind of intro, giving way to a heavy singalong of “Woaoaoah, we don’t belong here, we don’t belong”. This is where I think some AFI influence came in. “Devil’s Choir” also has a somewhat dark but poppy AFI feel to the vocals, with a layered hard rock production that soars into a blistering guitar solo.
By this point I’ve stopped really paying so much attention to the storyline. My attention turns not even to the lyrics but the playing. To dismiss this band because they aren’t “metal enough” is to do a disservice. And if you go in with that attitude the next track will lose you.
“Resurrect The Sun” starts out with a piano and semi-industrial beat. I guess this could be considered a ballad and while it is good, it starts to wander into the pedestrian. Then we have an interlude of sorts with “Overture”, a very lavish strings-only version of “I Am Bulletproof”. It’s here where you realize the intertwined melodies under all the heavy. I could easily listen to the whole album done this way.
“Shadows Die” starts quiet and moody, and swings and swaggers its way into one of the heaviest tracks on the album. The drums are sharp. The rhythm guitars are full of crunch. The melodic guitar parts are doubled up Metallica-style again here. This is where the lyrics start to turn, as if the main character of the story has decided not only that his past faith has betrayed him, but that he should cry out against it and do everything to stop it. The next interlude “Abeyance” explains just that. “Days Are Numbered”, okay theres no way to avoid it. The riff is “Crazy Train”. Some other bits of 80s metal are in here too. Maybe some shades of Iron Maiden. But the chorus is nothing like those two. And while we’re theiving, “Done For You”… well let’s just say Trent Reznor is owed some royalties, as the verse is built off of “Hurt” until the chorus kicks in. And the chorus is gorgeous. This is the band at their most vulnerable and I still find myself liking this song even though maybe I shouldn’t.
The band then snaps back with “Nobody’s Hero”, one of the better tracks on the album. This one is situated right in the middle of all the things they do right as a band. “Lost It All” sums up a sad ending to the story, with it’s stark piano and gruff singing. Ending on the note “I believe we all fall down sometimes”. One of the standouts for me because this track ventures into different territory, not being afraid to use pop melody while creating a great atmospheric backdrop. I start to remember again this is a story. Then they use ideas from Pink Floyd’s “The Great Gig In The Sky” under a “We Will Rock You” beat. Or is that Dream Theater’s “The Spirit Carries On”? Well at least they have great influences.
The narrator informs us that F.E.A.R. is no longer in control, but they will return. I assume from the last track the main character must have been the tragic martyr, while the rebellion won the war.
“In The End” is one of the best tracks, one of the catchiest, and luckily since it is a single won’t be lost because it’s at the end. It can be taken as part of the storyline, or can be seen as a simple declaration that when you die you live on through the stories people tell to remember you.
Sure there not a whole lot new here lyrically. This isn’t really all that much different from other concept albums about overcoming authority. But it’s all in the passion and the delivery. these guys managed to capture my attention long enough to want to actually own this one. It rocks pretty tough and is probably a good fit if you see your rock music in a world without divider plates, where a little thrash and a little emo and a little pop gets into the main course. And for the storyline, the costumes, and all the ambition that goes into making a concept album, I appreciate the extra effort.
Check out the first video:
“In The End:”