Since exploding onto the scene like an atomic bomb in 2011, Black Veil Brides have done it all.
They’ve played main stages at the best festivals across the world, acquired a legion of fans (they have their own Army, for fuck sake) and appeared on so, so, so many magazine covers. Yet, for all of their bluster, and despite a handful of huge songs, they are yet to make a record that will silence detractors and make those that simply shrug at the band’s existence bat an eyelid.
Having said that, things seem different this time out. There’s less “Join us or Die” bravado from the band in the press and, most significantly, they’ve recruited one of the greatest rock producers of all time - a man who has overseen the greatest successes from some of the biggest bands ever - to do it. Bob Rock may have spent the last few years trying to drain the last dribbles of creativity from The Offspring and helping you provide Christmas presents for relatives you don’t like with Michael Buble but this is the first time he’s worked with a young and hungry rock band since doing Lostprophets’ Liberation Transmission in 2006. This was a match that was made to be. Having helped the likes of Metallica, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi hit new commercial heights, as album opener Heart Of Fire roars into earshot, it’s clear that Bob Rock and Black Veil Brides work as a team. The roaring guitars and a snare that feels like a pickaxe being driven to the temple have an edge of toughness that BVB have always lacked through the eccentricities that neutered Wretched And Divine and through being a bit wimpy prior to that. Add in Andy Biersack unleashing furious screams and a final croon that recalls the gothic noir of Type O Negative’s Pete Steele, and it’s clear this is a harder BVB than we are used to. Faithless follows and is comfortably the best song of the band’s career. With a chorus that any of the 80s arena rock bands would kill to write in 2014, it’s all excessive bone-crunching riffing, fist clenching vocal melodies and with a guitar solo to die for. A bona fide anthem that shows the potential of what this band are truly capable of.
Still, while Black Veil Brides roars out of the traps and is definitely the best record of the band’s career, it still lacks the consistency that all standout albums have. While Crown Of Thorns has a stunning Jeff Beck meets Metallica intro and a mammoth chorus and Goodbye Agony is the album’s standout ballad (albeit one dripping in leather and attitude), overall the Californian quintet’s fourth album is too patchy to put them in the top tier that they crave. But, for the first time, the signs are there that it’s within their grasp. The musicianship has taken a leap in the right direction with Christian Coma stealing the MVP award just ahead of a hugely improved Andy Biersack. While in the past Andy’s trademark bluster has felt hollow when compared to the band’s creative output, the commanding conviction he shows on Shattered God and Stolen Omen sees him walking it like he talks it for the first time. It’d makes even the most hardened sceptic think this band could still be rock’s standout heroes of tomorrow.
So Black Veil Brides isn’t the finished article, but the band are getting closer with every passing album and they are certainly not rock’s punchline anymore. Considering where they were three years ago, that’s a remarkable achievement. The future just might be theirs after all.