by Rob Wilson

Because there isn’t much interesting stuff out until the year actually kicks in properly in about two weeks I’ve had to dust the cobwebs off the cogs and get my mind working on something so the first review of the year goes to “In the End”, the lead single from Black Veil Brides’ new album Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones.

For those that don’t know a thing about Black Veil Brides, all you know need to know is this: their debut single ‘Knives and Pens’ went viral around the emo-rock community circa 2008 and they spent most of 2009 trying desperately to not look like a Kiss tribute act (which they failed to do, by the way). They screamed a bit, they got a few fangirls because their lead singer, Andy Sixx, looked like someone had drop-kicked a Geisha through a PULP store and the California rock band released their debut album We Stitch These Wounds around mid-2010. Since then they’ve released another album, Set the World on Fire and once again failed to avoid looking like Kiss. And here we are in late 2012 (or early 2013 if you must), hot off the press – Black Veil Brides have recorded and released another song.

One thing Black Veil Brides are good for is bringing a crowd together (their fans even call themselves the “BvB Army”), mainly by snatching themes straight from the big book of emo cliches and hairstyles that mirror those of the long-haired teenagers that haven’t quite reached their sweet sixteens. You can guarantee that these are the people who will be writing Andy Sixx’s pen-work all over their school books, just like I used to do. But it appears that this time they’ve attempted to further sell this idea that they’re in the struggle together by opening up this new single with distant chanting from voices whose owners don’t sound older than thirty – combined.

But underneath this chanting, the soppy strings (that are used again in the same “meaningful” way towards the end) fade in awkwardly and almost set “In the End” up to be some kind of 30-Seconds-to-Mars-attempt at an arena-sized, chant-worthy hook that doesn’t really pay off and actually leaves Andy Sixx sounding more insincere than Jared Leto does at the worst of times. However, I’m sure it’ll go down a storm at the gigs they’re bound to sell out over the next twelve months.

One thing that sticks out most of all is how much this song sounds like it belongs on Eurovision – this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is when your main aim is to be a heavy rock band. The steady 4/4 drum beat over an even steadier chord progression that fits each bar (plus the Kiss costumes Black Veil Brides insist on wearing) would have the continental flags waving faster than Andy Sixx’s attempt at a half-sung, half-growled vocal delivery gets annoying. Even back in the days when I used to enjoy Black Veil Brides, his voice always felt tacky, almost as if he was in the wrong band – and this song does nothing to change that opinion. And I’m not even sure if there’s a bass used in this song because of just how much emphasis there is on the distortion of the rhythm guitar. If the bass is playing root notes he’s got no hope of being heard.

I do have to give credit to Black Veil Brides for one thing, though: the very brief guitar-hook/breakdown that is only revisited on the odd occasion as a way to set up each verse ends up being more catchy than the rest of the song tries its best to be. “In the End” doesn’t encourage me to try out Wretched and Divine (which will be released on Lava Records, January 8th, 2013). In fact, not only does it not sound like anything new, it just doesn’t sound like Black Veil Brides have bothered to extend their sound or do something else. If this remains the case in future releases I think I’ll leave this bride at the altar.