Report from a Listening Party: Black Veil Brides, Wretched and Divine

Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones is album number three for Black Veil Brides.

As a quick introduction to their current aesthetic, here’s the video for the first single, In the End, which dropped on Wednesday:
 

 

The rest of Wretched and Divine is due out in early January, and will be accompanied by a movie called Legion of the Black.

Buying a ticket for the New York premiere of Legion of the Black was what led to me being one of the lucky people who got to attend a listening party for Wretched and Divine today.

We got to listen to it all the way through one time. The following notes and observations are based on that single hearing:

  • This record is big, in the sense that it is ambitious, and in the sense that it contains multitudes. It is expansive, but not bloated, and heavy, at times, but not ponderous.

    One of my notes on I Am Bulletproof, the first song, was WHAMMO guitar time! More punch than drag; heavy drums, lots of shredding, but cohesive, which I feel is a reasonable summation of the song and most of the record as well.

    Main point of divergence between the record and the song: the record has more fancy strings.

  • Familiar BVB themes – unity of rebels and outcasts, celebrating your life, standing tall in the face of adversity, getting up even when mean people knock you down – are there, but given shapes and faces which I suspect will become more concerete to me once I have seen the accompanying movie.

    Religious / inspirational language and themes, which echoed through BVB’s earlier records are front and center here, though, I agree with Kerrang!‘s assessment: they haven’t turned into Stryper.

    The faith they are talking about seems much more general and amorphous, perhaps somewhat like the faith that powers the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, than one that springs from adherence to a specific religion.

    There’s also certain amount of intersectionality of artforms – music vs film vs film musical / musical film vs rock opera / concept record – that I want to come back to later, once I have experienced both works.

  • Songs that are most likely to be pit sing-alongs / jump-athons, in order of appearance: New Year’s Day (heavy bass drum intro, like a heartbeat, finished with a dollop of fancy violin); We Don’t Belong (glitchier, more electronic, drums more understated); Devil’s Choir (martial, parade-like beat and skirling shredding that smooths out to support the shout-along chorus).
  • Overture is the instrumental number at the halfway line. It is lovely combination of fancy violins and rolling, thunderous drums, and if it is not the centerpiece of someone’s ballet recital / senior dance project this spring I am going to be sad.
  • There are two ballads: Done With You which is gentle and subdued, and Lost It All which starts out with some doomy piano and then expands and soars into classic metal ballad territory. For the latter I made a “hand -> staple -> forehead” note, but that is because my affection is both sincere and snarky. It really is a lovely song.
  • Shadows Die (fancy picking, dull thunderous drums that build to a raging torrent) and Nobody’s Hero (dirty bluesy bassline) struck me as the most “traditionally” metal in form, if not in content; the latter went on just a hair too long.

After the record was over, we got to watch five minutes of the movie – my appetite for the rest is suitably whetted – and after that the room was shocked in to stunned silence when the door popped open and BVB lead singer Andy Biersack walked in. The visit that followed as all the sweeter for having been totally unexpected.

In summary: the record was good, I can’t wait to hear it again, and it was an A++ evening overall.

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