It’s hard to describe the sound of the Black Veil Brides. There’s something amazingly metal about them that isn’t just the glam metal aesthetic of the band’s earlier years. The thrashing guitars, heavy bass, and darker vocal sound of lead singer Andy Biersack all give the band a very hard rock, more intense edge.
But the musical style of Vale, the fifth studio album from the band, trends very nu metal. It sounds like a band that makes regular appearances on the Hot Topic in-store playlist and, as someone who still occasionally shops there, I say it with charm, not derision. The choruses of various songs, the call and response sessions, and the way the songs are musically written all call back to a 2000s nu metal or occasionally pop-punk, sitting comfortably next to Lit or Papa Roach on a DJ’s playlist.
The lyrics also trend towards the pop-punk. Reoccurring themes in Vale are about the outcasts and outsiders, a ‘here’s to the failures’ type edge. The lead single is called “The Outsider”, for heaven’s sake, and it’s a three minute perfectly composed cookie-cutter nu metal song with vague religious allegories and a chorus that hangs on the phrase “I am the outsider.” It would be a bit cliche if it wasn’t so charming.
One of the released singles, “Wake Up,” is a generic rallying cry and revolution type anthem (though it’s remarkably ambiguous as to who the ‘them’ Black Veil Brides are going to show up is). Songs are about sticking together in loneliness, being someone’s shadow, being dangerous and reckless, and so on. All slightly cliche lyrical concepts, but all tried and true metaphors that work remarkably well with the Black Veil Brides’s sound. There aren’t really any new or mind-blowing lyrical insights but with this type of sound, you don’t really expect there to be in the first place.
That’s not to say that the album is bad—because it isn’t! Vale is charming in its predictability, an album where even though you know what the next song is going to sound like, you find yourself nodding your head along anyway. It’s amazingly well constructed and fun, a pulsing album with only a few duds. And one of the duds, “Dead Man Walking”, is only one because of the length. I’ve a feeling the song performs better in concerts than it does on the cd as it seems tailor made for every member of the band to show off in some shape or form. The band blends the genres and the sounds together wonderfully, creating a definite sound that permeates the entire album.
The problem with the sound, however, is that it seems slightly static. Black Veil Brides don’t really do much to explore their sound or push it to new boundaries. Everything’s taken at about the same tempo and about the same volume with about the same instruments. Sometimes the slower songs show promise: “Vale,” the titular track off the album, starts off wonderfully slow with only melodic guitar and gentle violins for a backing.
However, as soon as the drums start up and the bass pushes the song into high gear, any sense of gentleness or restraint is lost as the song goes back to sounding like every other song on the album. Which again, is something you might not mind if you like the sound. But at least for me, I wish that the album could have a little more experimentation or a little bit more difference from song to song.