Back in July, I found myself in my house alone in my kitchen making a spot of lunch. I had Scuzz, the best TV channel... ever turned up loud so no music could be missed out and just as I started slicing up some cheese for a toastie, I just heard this frantic drum solo kick into action, followed by some pounding metalcore breakdowns and classy lead guitar wailing. Having thought that Atreyu had gone on hiatus, I was confused and was in dire need of knowing who was making this awesome sound. I checked out what was being shown to me on the TV only to find five young and handsome devils parading around in last-place-at-a-KISS-lookalike-competition outfits in a car scrapyard performing their song The Legacy. Looking at this my initial thoughts were "Oh my god, the Black Veil Brides are actually a kick-ass band." Contrary to the countless suggestions of a lack of talent and homophobic slurs that internet comment boards liked and still do enjoy throwing at me. So, in the process of taking a decent chunk of the world by storm the Hollywood quintet had time in December to release some new material for fans in the form of new EP Rebels.
Instantly listening to new song Coffin assures listeners that Black Veil Brides have an optimistic future and leaves a promising message for the apparent new album being released in spring. Sin months seems like a short space of time for a band's sound to mature but Coffin proves this to be possible and perhaps the pressure of being such a massive rock band with an emotional fan base and endless criticism has forced frontman Andy Biersack to grow up fast. Such a notion is displayed in the song with his more in-depth Gothic vocals which seem to progress in a more mature state in each release; even his screaming is at it's most tolerable here. Inspecting the axe-work of Jake Pitts and Jinxx makes the songs more like a retrospective of the groups work up to now with the chaotic and frantic pounding of 2010's We Stitch These Wounds painted over with the extra mightiness of last year's Set the World on Fire. It suggests the group may go on to record what could be their definitive work.
Following the ambitious new song the band kick back and have some fun with the two covers on offer. Their take on Billy Idol's Rebel Yell is of quite some interest as they actually give it their own treatment playing it more sterile and allowing for some chugging riffs to make up the main verse structure. it makes it difficult to compare to the original. I'd actually say both are equally good. And of course the group show off their obvious charm in changing the lyrics "But when I'm tired and lonely/ She sees me to bed" to "But when I'm sad and lonely/ She gives me head." Yes, this is the music of Hollywood.
Before inspecting their cover of KISS' lesser-known hit Unholy, I did have to check out the original version of the song which was cool but a little soft on the edges, so I had lots of confidence when going to look up the cover, but when I typed the artist and song into the Youtube searchbar the results section caught my curiosity and I ended up finding hundreds of videos of angry kids stating that Knives and Pens is a rip-off of Avenged Sevenfold's Unholy Confessions. Getting back on track, though BVB do add an extra sense of heaviness to the music conceived by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, they do manage to elevate the unintended silliness of the original to new levels and of course the guest solo from heavy metal royalty Zakk Wylde allows this over-the-top atmosphere to take full flight. Of course, the song is absolutely glorious in it's ridiculousness.
So, Rebels is a sign that all is well at camp BVB. The riffing is still strong, production is getting tighter and maturity is taking it's form across the music while the group are still looking at their musical and personal past with pride and still with a smile on their face. And with that, perhaps their constant rewarding of breakthrough acts of 2011 were truly deserving. Perhaps amid all the online sneering and mockery of the group, the devoted BVB Army and anyone who was looking for decent modern hard rock were watching the birth of something truly awesome.
Black Veil Brides' Rebels is out now via Universal Republic Records. The band will tour the UK in March with Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows.