by Mark Allen
They slather on the black eyeliner and KISS-inspired makeup like some Beelzebubean baker icing the devil’s own wedding cake and wear more leather than the stars of a cowboy fetish gay porn video. Their melodic, guitar-propelled interpretation of modern metal makes no attempt to veil their adoration of—or pilfering from, if you want to nitpick—the ‘80s glam/hair-rock scene. By merging the hook-drenched, anthemic nature of bands like Keel and Poison with the slick, commercialized metal that is devoured by the youth of today, it is entirely possible that Black Veil Brides have found the sound that will bring long-haired (and long in the tooth) headbangers and goth-garbed guys and gals together in perfect harmony.
Oh, hell, who are we trying to kid? Everyone knows that oldschool metal mavericks would rather be caught with a trunk full of dead mallrats than listen to anything resembling Black Veil Brides. But they should at least be impressed that the young band is p(l)aying tribute to the classic Sunset Strip style of yesteryear. If Pretty Boy Floyd and Avenged Sevenfold engaged in some wham-bam business in a Hot Topic dressing room, the resulting lovechild might look and sound a lot like Black Veil Brides.
But hold the applause, or at least muffle it, because all is not perfect with this bastard baby. Black Veil Bride’s Achilles heel is lead vocalist Andy “Six” Biersack, whose limited range is a detriment, bordering on monotone at times. On the band’s debut, they opted for a metalcore sound which proved that Biersack isn’t a particularly great screamer; now that they have cut out the “-core” in favor of the glam, you can glean that he isn’t a particularly great singer either. He manages to get by without completely ruining the album, but Black Veil Brides would be a better band if they gave Biersack his bye-bye papers.
If the singer is subpar, the guitarists and drummer are superb. The twin guitar attack is sharp, precise, and flashier than you expect from a modern metal band. Jake Pitts possesses significant talent, frenetically flailing the frets as he fires off one searing solo after another. There is a Malmsteen feel to his complex six-string approach, complete with some indulgent showboating, but it never devolves into egomaniacal masturbation. Drummer Christian “CC” Coma pounds out the beats with authority, banging the skins with the skill and enthusiasm of a professional percussionist.
The band’s first single, “Fallen Angels,” is also the catchiest song on the album, steeped in that late ‘80s metal excess. It is a massive anthem, molded from Motley Crue’s “Primal Scream” and then crossed with Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild.” Backed by a headbanging rhythm, gang vocals erupt in “Scream! Shout!” unison while the band seeks to create a rebellious rallying cry for the disenfranchised youth of this generation with lyrics like, “We’re bored to death in Heaven / And all alone in Hell / We scream / We shout/ We are the fallen angels.” Elsewhere the band dishes out some double-kick heavy metal with “New Religion,” pumps out some pop-metal accessibility with “Rebel Love Song,” cranks out some chugging hard rock with “God Bless You,” and slams out the badass riffs with “Smoke and Mirrors.”
Set the World on Fire strives to span a quarter-century gap between modern and ‘80s metal. There is no doubt it could be better—perhaps it is a juxtaposition that can never work to absolute perfection—but there is also no doubt that they have done a pretty good job of mashing up the genres. Will it stand the test of time? Probably not. The album is just a little too derivative and carefully-cultivated to appeal to market demographics to be considered substantive, but it is enjoyable nonetheless. Like a high-fructose, over-caffeinated energy drink, this album’s impact may not have much staying power beyond the short term, but it’s still a tasty kick in the ears.
Genre: Modern hard rock/metal
Andrew “Andy Six” Biersack (lead vocals, keyboards, piano)
Jinxx (rhythm guitar, violin, backing vocals)
Jake Pitts (lead guitar)
Ashley Purdy (bass guitar, backing vocals)
Christian “CC” Coma (drums)
1. New Religion
2. Set the World on Fire
3. Fallen Angels
4. Love Isn’t Always Fair
5. God Bless You
6. Rebel Love Song
8. The Legacy
9. Die For You
11. Youth and Whiskey
12. Smoke and Mirrors
Label: Lava Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10
by Chris A.
Energy, Great Vocals and Stage Vibe Make These Bands Worth Shelling Out the Bucks To See Live
Now with its fifth year behind it, “Rock On The Range” has become a real-deal rock and roll concert institution. Held each year in Columbus, Ohio, at Crew Stadium, fans, bands and media agree it’s one of the best run high- value for money rock festivals in North America. The success of the Rock on the Range franchise has inspired a Canadian variant and similar festivals including the 2011 “Carolina Rebellion.”
The 2011 Rock on the Range featured 40 bands and added a free Friday night party for ticket holders. With three stages and that many bands it impossible to see every act. Headliners for the event included Avenged Sevenfold, A Perfect Circle, Disturbed, Korn, Stained and many more.
As the summer schedule heats up, here are a few suggestions for bands to consider going to see based on their performance at Rock On The Range:
Korn: Okay, the bands been through several members and has been around the block, but this train just keeps on rolling. From the moment they walked onto the main stage at ROTR it was pandemonium on the stadium main floor. Jonathan Davis is a presence behind the microphone, with his often constrained, hypnotic vocals adding credibility to the insanity of Korn’s musical world. A genuine must-see band that never fails to deliver live!
Black Label Society: Zakk and the boys in BLS are back and putting more “brutal”into the old-school “brewtality” the band originally built its reputation on. After several tumultuous years and two ho-hum albums, Wylde’s ejection from Ozzy Osbourne’s band was perhaps what the iconic metal shredder needed to help him find his way back to reality. The now-healthy Zakk Wylde took the stage donning a full indian war bonnet Ala-Ted Nugent and for the next 30 minutes treated the crowd to inspired wailing.
Pop Evil: Wow! An absolutely explosive band with a frontman who has it all. I like bands that are “frenetic” and that’s one way to describe the energy expelled by the rockers in Pop Evil. With great guitar tone and a vocalist who instantly seems to connect with the fans, Pop Evil is one of those bands that deserves serious consideration. There’s no standing still when this band is on stage.
Trust Company: While these guys hail from Alabama, they’re not “good ole boys” by any means. Mixing tight guitar grooves with big soaring vocals in a melodic metal mix of head-banging inducing tunes, this band has great potential. Radio friendly with tunes that should appeal to a broad range of rock fan. The band is absolutely crazy onstage with youthful enthusiasm and high-powered rock-star appeal.
Asking Alexandria: This is a kick ass metal band. I’d never heard of them before ROTR but I’m gonna be keeping an eye on them. With steam-roller precision this British quintet of guitars match perfectly with the incredibly diverse capabilities of the vocalist. If you like it brutal these guys deliver.
Day 1 (Saturday, May 21)
Monster Energy Stage:
|Day 2 (Sunday, May 22)
Monster Energy Stage:
A Perfect Circle
The Damned Things