Since word spread amongst the rock world that legendary producer Bob Rock was working on the new Black Veil Brides album, anticipation was suddenly at an all-time high. With a discography including the likes of Metallica, Crüe and Skid Row, could he work his magic on one of the planet’s hottest properties?
They’ve graced numerous covers, are plastered across bedroom walls worldwide and have headlined Brixton Academy, and whatever you think of Black Veil Brides, they’ve had an increasingly harder edge with each passing record. Now, on their fourth studio album, the Hollywood five-piece are looking like a much stronger prospect for fans older than school-leaving age.
If you’ve been out of the loop for a few years (and we’re guessing you probably have), the ‘charity shop Mötley Crüe look’ is long gone. The bouffant hair and black body paint has been replaced by guyliner and the odd black line or two across faces. Now, we know we’re not here to pass judgement on dress sense, but many music fans tossed Black Veil Brides aside like a used napkin partly down to their image. But this is the sign of a band maturing and the results are plentiful.
Opener Heart On Fire is a solid slab of foot-tapping, head-nodding hard rock that straddles the line between City Of Evil-era Avenged Sevenfold and the glam territory which Black Veil Brides call home (which you can pin on Bob Rock, the man behind that snare noise). There are no harsh vocals to be found; instead pin-up frontman Andy Biersack delivers powerful, gruffer vocals that tear them away from any ‘pop music’ nonsense you might have preconceptions of and into, dare it be said, metallic territory with the chugging riffage and pounding drums that permeate throughout the record.
That being said, Biersack and co can write a bloody good chorus or five. OK, he’s not competing with George RR Martin on complex storytelling, but Black Veil Brides know their audience and know these choruses are going to be screamed back at them with such gusto any parrot within five miles will have learnt the words.
Similar to its t-shirt slogan lyrics (‘I will never be the faithless one’, ‘I won’t let these demons drag me to the grave’) Black Veil Brides IV is packed with more ‘Whoa’s than James Hetfield’s vocal warm-up. However, once the LP passes the frankly woeful, cheesed-up ballad Walk Away, it enters a downward turn. Some momentum is lost and you’re left wondering if it’s the same album you stuck on half an hour ago. The happy-go-lucky rock tune of Stolen Omen is replaced with tiresome lyrics on The Shattered God and the sunshine-shit-in-my-cereal out-of-place upbeat attitude of Drag Me To The Grave.
Despite the endgame falling short, this is Black Veil Brides’ best album to date. Will it change the world of metal? Probably not. But is its hard rock emphasis enough to drag non-defenders into the metal world? Possibly so. Only time will tell. And as every BVB fan on the planet will buy this album, that could be a lot of young metalheads on the horizon.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE SONG ON THE RECORD?
“Walk Away is an eight-minute song. I wanted to do something with all these bells and whistles, but that also has a great feel and lyrical content that’s representative of how we feel as a band.”
WHAT’S THE MOST RADICAL DEPARTURE?
“The Shattered God, which was us having fun with our influences and trying to do something that was over-the-top riffage! Everyone was like, ‘This is so cool!’”
IS THERE A STORY BEHIND THE ARTWORK?
“All of our records have been painted by Richard Villa. With this one I wanted to do something representative of the theatricality of the band. It’s got this monolithic monster, but also a tone that has reality to it.”