While some bands start with a particular style or sound and never deviate, most have stylistic shifts throughout their career ranging from slight to seismic. Black Veil Brides are a band that has embraced various styles over the years from metalcore to glam to hard rock. They had immediate success on the Billboard 200 album chart, with their 2010 debut We Stitch These Wounds landing at No. 36 and their last two albums have cracked the top 10.
Fans had to wait longer than usual for their fifth studio album Vale, with a release more than three years after 2014’s self-titled effort, although the live DVD Alive and Burning was issued in between. The group put the extra time to good use, writing a collection of accessible and eminently catchy tracks for Vale.
As to the meaning of the album title, frontman Andy Biersack says, “The Latin translation of Vale is “be well, be strong!” and central to the message of this record. We hope to continue to inspire our fans and friends to embrace their own individuality and inner strength.” The band dips into their history a bit, bringing back the central narrative characters “The Wild Ones” and having them face the challenge of moving on from the pain and anguish of their past and looking to a new chapter in their lives.
The album gets off to a deliberate start with an intro track and then an extended introduction on the first proper song “The Last One.” But once the choruses start flying, they don’t let up. “The Last One” is straightforward but ridiculously catchy with an Avenged Sevenfold-esque break partway through.
Nearly every track on the album is a potential single, with an unending supply of hooks. “Wake Up” has both a sing-along chorus and arena-ready guitar solos, having the potential to become a live staple. And while hooks and memorable choruses are a commonality, that doesn’t mean every song sounds the same. There are harder edged rockers like “Throw the First Stone” and “My Vow” at play alongside earnest, mellower songs such as “When They Call My Name.” Subtle touches like adding strings on “Our Destiny” help add some variety to the flow.
Biersack says the album’s concept is one near to his heart and that he believes will resonate with those that find themselves cast on the fringe of society. He states, “From our inception Black Veil Brides have stood up for the outcasts and disenfranchised, with this album as hope to give you hope, fun and most importantly a kick ass rock and roll record.”
Whether all of that is true I can’t say, but I will vouch for the fact that Vale is a fun listen. It’s slickly produced with upbeat songs that you’ll find yourself humming or singing along with, whether you want to or not.
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