Sound — 9
Although the Black Veil Brides' debut full-length We Stitch These Wounds was only released this July, the band's buzz has already been a tangible one. Between its consistent touring schedule and already making bank merchandise-wise at Hot Topic, the LA-based quintet is sitting in a pretty cushy spot at this point in the game. Black Veil Brides' debut is certainly worthy of attention, and at the heart of it all is the amazing work of guitarists Jinxx and Jake Pitts. The core songwriting although often fueled by chugging, gain-heavy guitars or double-bass pedal metal work still leans more heavily into an emo area interestingly enough. That's not a diss against Black Veil Brides, but the smooth vocal style of Andy Six makes for a fascinatingly odd contrast with the overall rhythm section.
What propels the record is the classically-driven style accentuating each of the 13 tracks. Jinxx is a classically trained violinist on top of everything, which allows the songs to take on more of a Yngwie Malmsteen style at times. After the brief-yet-intriguing opening track The Outcasts (Call To Arms), which is essentially a recorded computer voice announcing the band, the classical vibe becomes readily apparent. We Stitch These Wounds kicks off immediately with a gorgeous, melodic lead guitar line that exudes majesty. Quickly a crunchier distortion and monster growl is added into the mix, but the entrance of Six's clean vocals takes the song and most every track on a much more subdued path.
In some ways Six's vocal style is reminiscent to the calming, smooth delivery of HIM's Ville Valo, which not surprisingly, is another favorite of the Hot Topic crowd. Regardless of whether you think Six brings enough aggression to the mix, it's the guitars that inevitably steal the show. From pinch harmonics to arpeggios to your run-of-the-mill power chords, Jinxx and Pitts do not disappoint. Highlights on We Stitch These Wounds include the flowing intro of Never Give In (which could either be the result of delay or layered guitars), and the beautiful twin guitar harmonies in Knives and Pens.
Black Veil Brides doesn't get penned in by the typical metal format, which could appeal to a much larger audience in the long run. An unplugged version of Knives and Pens is a standout in its own right, while The Mortician's Daughter (as dark as the title may seem) is one of the sweetest, most stripped down, emotional offerings on the CD.
Lyrics — 7
Herein lies the major dividing line between Black Veil Brides being metal and emo. This is a band that can lay down powerful riffs with the best of them, but in the lyrical content they are also not afraid to talk aboutfeelings. You'll certainly never hear most metal bands uttering the romantic notions you hear in The Mortician's Daughter (I sit here and smile dear; I smile because I think of you, I blush; These bleeding hollow dials, this fuss) or even ideas of love gone wrong in the title track (The tears we've cried; This love has died; You're by yourself here tonight). There are certainly other topics besides love on the album, but emotions and self-reflection are often the key themes at hand.
Overall Impression — 8
If you prefer your metal/rock to revolve around aggressive, testosterone-fueled music or lyrics, Black Veil Brides may leave you unsteadily on the fence. The band delivers elements of rawness particularly in the growl-driven moments within the compositions but there's a restrained quality still present thanks to the cherubic vocals of Andy Six. The band does fall more into a HIM category only the guitar work is astoundingly more impressive in Black Veil Brides. The classically trained work of Jinxx allows for a much wider musical palette and that in itself is deserving of the buzz.