Review Summary: The first over-anti-hyped album of the year, Wretched and Divine is a bland album marred by a lack of imagination and poor execution.
I honestly cannot recall actually listening to Black Veil Brides, and that either makes me the most blessed man on the internet, or makes me entirely unsuited to writing this review. Every once in a while though, someone just wants to watch the world burn, and instead of blowing up an action figure I figured I’d give their new record a gentlemen’s chance. From what I understand, Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones
is some massive concept album, and if my limited internet research is correct, they’ve released or are releasing a film to coincide with the album. The concept is some sort of Alice in Wonderland type of storyline involving the band leading an uprising to overtake an evil organization within a young girls mind…while the concept may be utterly ridiculous and insipid, worse concepts have been put to audio with excellent results (a heroin addict killing random women whom he believes to be his mother, because a female voice in his head tells him to? Come fu
They also claimed the album would be their most punk yet, and I can’t say whether or not that’s true. If being punk means putting some electronic interludes ala Refused, then they’ve really hit the nail on this one. Nearly every single track on the record features some degree of one-or-two note samples, most often book ending a song. They generally seem to serve the sole purpose of taking you entirely out of whatever sort of anthemic feeling they’ve managed to build, while occasionally having a piano accompaniment because this is a ‘rock opera’ and you wouldn‘t be able to tell otherwise. In addition to this shortsighted experimentation, they include “transmissions” from the leader of the “evil organization” strewn throughout the album. We can infer their name is “F.E.A.R” because the song titles directly tell us such. Black Veil Brides have dug up William Control from whatever coffin he was currently inhabiting to do duties as the nefarious leader, and the line reading is utterly terrible. Look, there is always room for cheesy delivery and dialogue, but when the best part of your spoken word tracks goes from a forced misuse of “chicanery” to the most over the top claim of “the uprising will NOT SUCCEED”, any kind claim to purposeful kitschy-ness can be safely put aside for mere god-awfulness.
What their wiki failed to inform me of was that they’re really just Avenged Sevenfold in laughable make up. Its like they’ve taken “Seize the Day”, “Bat Country” and all of the not circus parts of a7x’s self titled and decided to base their entire sound on that. Basically, theatrical rock with a lot of Guns n Roses influence. What will you get with nearly any song on Wretched and Divine
? Riffs, riffs, riffs, riffs, riffs. Scales, scales, scales, scales, scales. Autotuned singing in the chorus. Some rabble-rousing gang-vocals. And then of course, they’ll add in some bleeps and bloops to make sure you know this is mother fu
cking Black Veil Brides, here to rescue Alice from the F.E.A.R inside her head. Wait…the concept…did I just “get it”?
It isn’t inherently terrible, though. I can’t overlook the fact that its rare, outside of the spoken word, that I outright cringe at anything. Despite every song sounding the same, they all jam to some degree, and there is the occasional solo that tries to go somewhere. “Resurrect the Sun” incorporates a mix of different elements, with some strings that are low enough in the mix to not come off as contrived, and the first solo on the album that’s more Slash worship than an attempt to poorly imitate Malmsteem. A lot of that goodwill is wasted the next time they try to mix it up on “Done For You”, the necessary ballad of schlock. If ever anything I’ve heard can be called “saccharine” when it opens with a man lighting and dragging a cigarette, this is it. It doesn’t help they have little idea for pacing, as its stuck between two of the “hardest rocking” songs on the album, which is then preceded by “Lost it All” (title original intellectual property of Black Veil Brides), the necessary power ballad of schlock and awe. The album completely falls apart here, as they add in some Dark Side of the Moon-esque soul caterwauling, and then huge drum stops and a choir of “I believe we all fall down sometimes”.
I’d like to add here that we do all fall down, Black Veil Brides. We do, but only sometimes.
Wretched and Divine
isn’t the worst album I’ve ever heard. It isn’t an Aiden album, it isn’t Farrah Abraham and it most certainly isn’t close to anything made by Ja Rule. The band’s aesthetic might be the stupidest thing on the planet to me, but rarely on the album do they ever become too dramatic or melancholy outside of the aforementioned transmissions (which ARE dreadful, and have been since wiped clean from my computer and phone, and I am currently devising a way through which by lucid dreaming I can erase my memory of them). The album is just a bunch of incredibly inoffensive hard rock masquerading as metal, and while its not good by any stretch of the imagination, it isn’t a travesty to music either. Black Veil Brides is a band for teens, and if you’re not into Hot Topic metal, I’d advise staying away. If by chance you stumble upon this review and you are a fan of Black Veil Brides, stay far, far, far away from the comments section of this review. I have a feeling you will not like what you see there.