Is this the end of Black Veil Brides? A glass-half-full type of BVB fan might certainly come to that conclusion gives the seeming profligation of clues littering the song titles of latest album Vale – hell, doesn’t even that word mean farewell in Latin?
It does, and song titles such as Incipiens Ad Finem (more Latin – this time meaning the beginning of the end), The Last One and Vale (This is Where It Ends) certainly do nothing to dissuade from the notion. The mournful who-ohs at the end of When They Call My Name also have a, well, valedictory feel to them, ramping up the slightly teary feeling devout fans of the band are going to get when they listen to Vale.
If this is the end, it’s a mighty shame because with Vale Black Veil Brides appear to have made a just about perfect Black Veil Brides record. Mixing just enough radio-friendly eighties nous to their standard modern stadium metal heft default (on tracks like The Last One and the excellent Outsider they show close musical cousin Avenged Sevenfold a thing or two about stadium-rattling LCD metal), the band seemingly attain the unattainable in these increasingly age-fractured times by making music both old and new metal fans alike can like.
Vocalist Andy Biersack doesn’t have the greatest of voices, but he certainly makes sure the rest of the band play to his strengths. This means poppy slices of what is virtually post hardcore like Dead Man Walking (Overture II) sit comfortably within the heavier moments in the BVB ouvre, linked by the singer’s consistently pleasing, aimed-low vocal style. The strength in every chorus comes from the melody and the never-far-away-gang accompaniment, and Biersack cleverly overcomes any deficiencies he has with a deft delivery and inarguable commitment to the cause that makes it frankly impossible to dislike anything the man does.
In some ways you could see Biersack as a latter day Alice Cooper, more ringmaster than frontman, marshalling the not inconsiderable forces at his side to deliver song after song of rabble-rousing, kohl-eyed delirium, feeding the audience what it wants – always after having convinced that same audience that what he’s peddling is what they actually want. It’s clever stuff, and Biersack, the undoubted star of this blackened show, wears the crown well.
Our Destiny weaves little shards of Maidenesque guitar into the mix (not to mention more who-ohs), King of Pain gives a bit of space for lead guitarist Jake Pitts to run wild – with most pleasing results -whilst the riffy My Vow shows that at the core of all the madness beats a solidly metal heart, whilst Ballad of the Lonely Hearts is one of the best built-to-be-sung whilst-holding-a-pint-in-the-air-and-hanging-off-yer-best-mate-songs I’ve heard in a long, long time…
In many ways Vale is an absolutely excellent album, and if this is the end, then Black Veil Brides can at least hold their heads up high, safe in the knowledge that they were the absolute best they could be when the hammer fell…
Vale is out now.