Black Veil Brides – Wretched and Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones (2013)

Posted: January 3, 2013 in Music

Black-Veil-Brides

A year and a half ago, I wrote an admittedly scathing review of Black Veil Brides and their then-new release Set The World On Fire. That post set this site on fire, as the review has currently received over 120,000 views and is still one of the most visited entries on this blog.

If you haven’t read it, I would suggest a quick glance here before reading the rest of this review – as it contains the history of the band, as well as my reaction to their success. The response of that original article was overwhelming. I’m pretty sure I pissed off every mascara-clad emo kid on the internet, as the hate mail poured in heavier than Andy Biersack’s eyeliner. Fans of the band young and old chimed in about the greatness of BVB, how misinformed I was, and that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, not to say it at all.

I had everything questioned from my musical knowledge to my sexual preference along the way (although proper grammar and spelling are apparently not required on the “Black Veil Brides Army” membership form).  I did come to appreciate – if nothing else – the extreme fervor of the band’s fanbase. It reminded me a bit of Insane Clown Posse’s “Juggalos” who, despite the sheer awfulness of that band, come together like none other to represent the music, fashion, and lifestyle that ICP represents. When the overall “concept” of a band speaks louder than the music itself, though, there is usually a wolf in the henhouse – and such is still the case with Black Veil Brides.

Now before you all go wrapping your silk scarfs into makeshift nooses, hear me out. I actually have a few nice (and unbelievably sincere) things to say about your beloved idols.

First off, the god-awful 80s-era Motley Crue makeup and hair spikes have been toned down quite a bit. That’s a good thing. No longer does the band look like a gaggle of Steve Stevens wannabes in leather pants – they actually look like a rock band.

Second, they have actually earned a little bit of respect from the rock community. Dee Snider likes the band, they took home a handful of awards from the 2012 Golden Gods Awards, and have been included in some very heavy, very serious concerts of late. All good signs for a band that garners such a mixed reaction from music critics.  I take a bit of issue with the Golden Gods, however.  Guitarists Jinxx Ferguson and  Jake Pitts have improved dramatically since 2011, but they were in no way a better guitar combo in 2012 than Lamb of God’s Mark Morton and Willie Adler. But hey, I didn’t vote for the Golden Gods, so who am I to say, right? What I can say is that I watched the Golden Gods, and BVB’s set was horrendous (and Biersack’s rant only made it more so) – but in all fairness, just about everyone performing that night sounded like shit, so let’s move on.

Lastly, I mentioned in the previous review that drummer CC Coma was a definite bright spot for the band on the last album, and nothing has changed that. He continues to hone his craft and could easily be a top-five drummer in the years to come. All of these things, when put together, at least show the band is improving and is bound to be around for a while . But before you call me converted and send me that pair of skinny jeans and laminated membership card, we have to talk about the new album – and you probably aren’t going to like (again) what you read.

I did everything my Gojira-loving heart could do to give this album an honest, unbiased listen. Being open-minded is the only way a music reviewer maintains any credibility – and I spun Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones with the same attention and square-one attitude I give all new releases. What I couldn’t avoid, however was the hype plastered all over the internet about the record. The band made it a point to be the first to tell you how incredible and different the album was going to be. I couldn’t go to a music website the last two weeks without a quote from Andy, CC, or Jinxx telling me something great about “Wretched…”

I’ve learned in my thirty plus years that when a band overhypes an album, it usually sucks. Even the great ones like Metallica and Guns and Roses have been guilty of it, yet we all know how “great” St. Anger and Chinese Democracy were. I’m sure BVB are fully convinced that their new rock-opera of an album is “epic”, but that’s a pretty big word to throw around – yet the band has done just that.

I can crap my pants and call it “birthday cake”, but the bottom line is that it is still uncomfortable and stinky. That’s not to say this album is a complete failure – because it is not – but it is anything but epic.

PHOTO-BVB-Publicity-1

The “us against the world” theme of this story isn’t much of a stretch, and not really all that interesting of a concept. We all know the division between the lovers and haters of this band, and a full album of fighting the odds and all that other rubbish is a bit stale, even for a band with only three recordings under their chrome studded belts. There is rumor that their is also a movie in the making to coincide with the album and its tale of being outcasts and coming out on top.

I’ve already seen that movie. It was called The Goonies.

The album starts off with some spoken word intro titled “Exordium” from Biersack (with more spoken interludes peppered throughout the disk to “tie the story together”). Something about god being all around us – which seemed a bit ironic from a band who’s drummer’s kit adorns an upside-down star (and yes, I know it’s a twist to their logo, but I’m also not stupid). Mostly generic, uninspired rhetoric. Hell, even the word “exordium” simply means “beginning”. Hopefully they are saving the “creativity” for later…

“I Am Bulletproof” has a definite All That Remains vibe to it, but is pretty solid instrumentally. There are some strong guitar and drum fills throughout, and the chorus is simple enough to sing along to, but that also is a bit of a problem. I”m going to try to only mention this once (as it is a constant issue), but the lyrics here are insulting. They are drab, uninspired, as as simple as a children’s book. This was a flaw last album, and is possibly even more of a distraction here. It’s hard to get too excited about the obvious growth musically when it appears they have taken a major step backward lyrically – and I didn’t think that would be possible.

As decent as the last track was, “New Years Day” was just as easily forgettable. Considering the album is out a week after the new year, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. If the band expects to stick around, it better do more for their fans than this. It’s recycled bits and pieces from a hundred different songs topped off with generic, overused effects.

The album’s title track has its moments as well. Some solid power metal riffs take charge of things here. It had a bit of a radio-rock groove, but thankfully that generic approach was hushed by the thunder of the drums and the aforementioned guitars.

I slammed the band in the past for stealing the sound of other bands. I almost wish they would have kept doing it, as through the course of developing their own style here, it seems they have fallen victim to an overly-average generic sound that is shared by everyone from Nickelback to Buckcherry. “We Don’t Belong” (seriously with that title, guys?) sounds like every other “let’s be hard” rock song I’ve heard on the radio the last three years. Next.

The title of “Devil’s Choir” had my attention immediately, but the excitement quicly died to more of the same – juvenile lyrics and bleeding-heart emo rock. Even a decent guitar solo couldn’t save this anchor. Unfortunately, it will probably be the next single due to its simplicity. Kids Bop 24, anyone?

The opening of “Resurrect the Sun” has the rare strong lyrics, coupled with the unfortunate addition of strings and piano. It’s not BVBs fault to add orchestrated parts here though. It’s kind of the “in” thing. Fuck, even The Black Dahlia Murder tried to pull the “epic” rabbit  out of the hat on their last disc by adding a symphony. It didn’t work for them, and it doesn’t work here either. What I did like is the metal-esque breakdown a few times throughout the song. As almost by accident, the parts that were supposed to be strong were weak, and the filler stuff was pretty strong. Go figure.

For a supposed “metal” band, the album hasn’t had much to raise your horns to. That changes with “Shadows Die”, which has plenty of double-kick and fretwork. It slows down from time to time, but for the most part carries a pretty vibrant, heavy feel. I could actually see me listening to this song quite a bit over the next year (spoiler alert: I probably won’t).

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“Days Are Numbered” features Bert McCraken from the Used, and honestly isn’t all bad either. The lyrics are a bit cryptic – to me, it sounded as if the band admits that they won’t be around forever due to the cynics and negative attention. It sounded a little full of themselves and made me feel a little sorry for them at the same time, and that’s thought-provoking.

There’s a few more tracks along the way to the finish line (none that I particularly cared for), so let’s fast-forward straight to the end of the disc.  The first single (and accompanying video below) titled “In The End” has been out for a few weeks now, and is supposed to be the complete overview of Black Veil Brides 2013.  It’s more direct, it’s exceptionally tight, but – for me, anyway – lacked something that kept it from being a legitimately memorable rock song. I don’t know if it was the lyrics or the safe approach with the instruments. I can’t put my finger on it, really. The end result is a track that should chart well, but just as easily be forgotten three months from now.

I’m still not convinced that Black Veil Brides is the band that their vocal fans claim they are, but this is a step in the right direction. If and when the band truly records a special album – or “epic”, as they proclaim – I’ll be the first to apologize. For now, though, they seem (despite the brighter moments here) to still be a band that is just not good enough lyrically or musically (with heavy emphasis on “lyrically”) to be taken seriously yet.

As far as “The Army?” I’m anxious to hear/read reactions to the album from them, as this album was obviously written for them above all else. It will be interesting to see what THEY think.

As far as me? I’m going to  listen to some Mastodon and empty my email account to make room for the next batch of hate…

5/10

Tracklist:
01 – Exordium
02 – I Am Bulletproof
03 – New Year’s Day
04 – F.E.A.R. Transmission 1: Stay Close
05 – Wretched and Divine
06 – We Don’t Belong
07 – F.E.A.R. Transmission 2: Trust
08 – Devil’s Choir
09 – Resurrect the Sun
10 – Overture
11 – Shadows Die
12 – Abeyance
13 – Days Are Numbered (feat. Bert McCracken of The Used)
14 – Done For You
15 – Nobody’s Hero
16 – Lost It All
17 – F.E.A.R. Transmission 3: As War Fades
18 – In the End
19 – F.E.A.R: Final Transmission

Buy at Amazon

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Comments
  1. Alexis says:

    Good review. I actually enjoyed this album and the previous ones but I agree with a lot of your points. I didn’t really like the concept too because I think it’s a bit exaggerated for their situation. I think the other problem of this album are the choruses, sounds like their singing the same note and playing the same chords. The lyrics are not really inspired and too “easy”. The intro riff of Days Are Numbered sounds too much like the intro riff of Crazy Train. But overall I liked it.

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