The rise of Black Veil Brides has been one earned from lengthy tours and stopping at nothing to connect with disenfranchised youth worldwide. You’ve likely heard of them, or at the very least seen a photo of their Mac cosmetic loving selves (usually shirtless) striking a defiant pose. Comparisons to bands to other image heavy bands like Kiss are inescapable, but they are also not far from the truth. Much like the rock gods who delivered Destroyer, Black Veil Brides have built a devoted following that relentlessly follow the band (and their brand)’s every move, and in 2013 they look to recruit even more followers with their Sophomore effort, Wretched And Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones.
Marking a clear departure from the approach to their debut album, Wretched And Divine finds Black Veil Brides dipping their toes ever-so-slightly into the world of concept releases. The Wild Ones appears to be a metaphor for the group’s fans and their ongoing struggle against a world that doesn’t understand them. This concept plays perfectly into the message of strength, acceptance, and perseverance frontman Andy Biersack has claimed the band aims to convey to fans, only its use in the story of the album is a bit more literal. The wild ones are constantly under the scrutiny of a recurring interlude character known as F.E.A.R. (voiced by Aiden’s Wil Francis), and throughout the course of the album listeners journey with those under attack and come out victorious in the end. It’s exciting, enthralling, and a near homerun in terms of playing the kind of music their fans have come to expect.
The only real issue found on Wretched And Divine is one that results from the brilliance of the record’s concept. Black Veil Brides have always been a band walking the line between alt-rock and something closer to punk, but one thing that has always remained the same is their aim to help those who feel like outcasts. This is where the band found success originally, and it serves to reason that they will continue to focus on that mission in the future, but for the purposes of this album it seems that desire to keep connecting also holds the group back from further developing their sound. There is less screaming on this record, yes, but the core elements of the band’s sound remain the same and anyone opposed to the prior recordings will find little-to-no new ground covered with this release. If the scope and purpose of the album is a gigantic step forward for Black Veil Brides, their growth as musicians are baby steps toward what I suspect will be an all-out mainstream alternative rock sound.
At the end of the day, the decision of whether or not to buy Wretched And Divine will come down to how much listeners already enjoy the band. This is a well written record that will assuredly thrust Black Veil Brides further into the spotlight, but their ability to last in this industry will be based on how the develop from this point forward. I believe this band is capable of making a record that will stand the test of time, and Wretched And Divine is a good step toward creating that release.
Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)