While the younger fans lapped them up, making front-man Andy Biersack a poster-boy in the process, many traditional metal fans labelled them as rip-off artists and posers (I remember a distinctly hostile reception at Download 2012) and thus, they became one of those Marmite bands. Fast forward a couple of years and after a couple more albums, they’ve toned down on the appearance ever so slightly and focussed on delivering a less glam-metal inspired sound leading into their brand new record “Vale”…and here lies the problem…let’s check it out.
We open up with “Incipiens Ad Finem” or roughly “Starting At The End”…that was sudden, quickest review ever! I jest…but no it’s literally a 21 second intro that serves literally no purpose being its own “track”…Biersack rambles on about having found their stage, preaching to the legion of the black and it’s all very melodramatic, before the first proper track “The Last One” gets the album going. It’s a very underwhelming transition to be honest not sounding very natural at all but when it reaches its peak it’s BVB by numbers; gang vocals and a soaring chorus, even the solo sounds forced but really its nothing special at all. “Wake Up” is a decent little track in an annoyingly literal sense…it’s a decent up beat piece of melodic rock but at less than 3mins it may as well be an alarm clock ring tone, it’s over just as you’re getting into it which is frustrating.
I won’t be a complete villain…”My Vow” offers some much needed weight and we actually get some enjoyable riffs here, there’s much more attitude here and it’s more akin to the earlier work that made them and that’s welcome, though it’s annoyingly short yet again, while “The King Of Pain” has an infectious simplicity to it, soothingly plucked guitars and honey coated vocals with ample hooks provide a clear album highlight here. “Dead Man Walking” tries it’s best to utilise pop elements but it’s far too long, and the chorus is disappointingly weak and repetitive, and its here we hit the albums Achilles heel…the vast majority of “Vale” sadly sounds phoned in and it’s ironically summed up in “Ballad Of The Lonely Hearts”. There’s a lyric that goes “Here's to the lonely hearts and the ones that never change. Here's to the failed starts and the song remains the same” and you’d be forgiven for thinking Biersack was singing about this very album…there’s nothing here that truly leaps out at you as a statement, there’s nothing here that warrants BVB being as big as they are…and this is where I draw my analogy; the band can’t win. Glam metal and make up? Posers and scorned…a touch stripped back and more serious? They have absolutely no charisma whatsoever…the album is annoyingly flat and it really is a case of damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Ironically it was them that sang “Love Isn’t Always Fair”