Sunday, January 21, 2018

Surprising Tenderness, A Review

You wouldn't think to hear of it, but actually sitting and listening to it, the new album Vale by Black Veil Brides is filled with surprising tenderness. Yes, it has anger and defiance, both of which are typical of BVB and the genre, and painfully relevant, but it's not all sour and saltiness.

"Wake Up" is about what you'd expect, and the music video shows it clearly.

All we know that's time
It's slipping from our lives
I want to get the truth
Hidden in the lies...

See it in our eyes
We will never blind
I will fight for you
Until the day I die

The message is plain, and could hardly be more direct. "Wake Up" is more than just the title of the song, it's a cry to all those who are trod on to not just take it, not just let it happen. There's a difference between being a victim and being victimized; you don't have to be both.

"The King of Pain," on the other hand, resounds with lyrics one might more expect from Creed.

Where is the spark that won't fade away?...
So don't walk away, I'll keep you safe, forget promises that we made...

When we find what we need from these broken hearts and what was missing from the start...
I want to give up as my vision fades, I'm left alone and now I'm blind

The message feels indistinguishable from "Higher:"

Those nights and those dreams
But, my friend, I'd sacrifice all those nights
If I could make the Earth and my dreams the same

It's a yearning to lose the dissonance between what we want the world to be and what it is, and both Creed and Black Veil Brides captured it well, both in tune and in lyric.

"Ballad of The Lonely Hearts" starts out coarse, but the chorus sits apart from the rest of the song:

Here's to the lonely hearts and the ones that never change
Here's to the fail starts and this all remains the same

To me, it comes across as a homage to "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating

Some of us are lonely. Some of us feel broken inside. Some of us can't but help to lag behind in the footsteps of the growling parade.

"Vale/This is Where it Ends" is the softest song I've heard of Black Veil Brides, but from an album of more tenderness than I'd expect, it isn't out of place.

Life took another turn
A hurricane is washed away
The fire that once burned
Time taking our true spark...
I can't put it back together
No, I won't put it back together
This is where it ends

For all our hatred, our anger, our fear, our dissatisfaction, our dripping and bloody defiance, there's comes a point where there's nothing more you can do. You can't fight the inevitability of erosion; water, given enough time--and time, given enough of it--will wash all things away. Even the most harshly burning spark will eventually go out.

Sure, you can start the album over again, this being the last song, but you'll find little revitalization there: "Incipiens Ad Finem," starting at the end.

It's not a happy or promise-filled album, so if that's what you're looking for, look elsewhere. But it is a testament to the world we live in, and finding a balance between outrage and kindness is no easy task. 

You can't be angry forever, even if the oppression never ends. That doesn't mean, however, that you can't find a way through it, a way to live within it, without compromising who you are and what you believe.