Black Veil Brides – Alive and Burning
Release Date: July 10, 2015
Few artists or bands in recent years have been as polarizing as Los Angeles-based hard rock emissaries, Black Veil Brides. The quintet, which was founded in Cincinnati in 2006 by frontman Andy Biersack, has evolved over the last decade into one of the most popular musical acts of the last 20 years. The band’s imagery mines former controversial artists like KISS and Motley Crue, with its use of make-up, theatrics, and emo-androgyny. Long raven tresses, tight black pants, and a cultivated sense of rebellion, speaks to and for a new generation of disenfranchised youth. While the band may be snubbed or disregarded by their contemporaries, Black Veil Brides have some of the most devout fans in rock and roll, and that is what truly matters.
Biersack is joined by bassist Ashley Purdy, drummer Christian “CC” Coma, and guitarists Jinxx and Jake Pitts. Last fall the band released its self-titled fourth album, which is its strongest and most cohesive record to date. The subsequent Black Mass Tour resulted in the band’s first ever live concert recording, Alive and Burning, which was released this week in Blu-ray and DVD formats through Eagle Rock Entertainment. Black Veil Brides have always been hailed for their energetic and exciting concert performances, and it is all captured at a sold-out hometown performance at the Wiltern Theater in Hollywood on November 1, 2014.
The band showcases its growing diversity with a 17-song set that covers all of the band’s records to date. The quintet took the stage in a fusillade of pyrotechnics with the opening track from 2014’s Black Veil Brides record, “Heart of Fire”, before barreling into “I Am Bulletproof”, from their 2013 album, Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones. The band makes good use of the large stage, running about in front of a wall of empty Marshall amp cabinets. C.C. Coma is perched on high, overlooking the crowd as he thunders the band through “Coffin”, a track pulled from the band’s 2011 EP Rebels; a song performed live for the first time for their hometown. From the same EP, they also played their rendition of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”.
Three songs into the show and a few things become apparently clear; Black Veil Brides feed off the crowd, there is significant use of pre-recorded background vocals, and they did a lot of overdubbing–making the record less “live”. This is much like their heroes in KISS with its iconic Alive albums of the 70s. Most bands do this, but it seems noticeably obvious here—it is just too smooth and over-produced. There are layers of background vocals with only two people in the band singing back-up. Despite this, it does not diminish the fan’s enjoyment of the show.
Fans were treated to two more tracks off the newest record; “Faithless” and “Last Rites”. The band dipped back into its history performing “Knives and Pens”, “Perfect Weapon” and “Sweet Blasphemy” from their 2010 debut album, We Stitch These Wounds.
Biersack roams the stage, inciting crowd while delivering a fantastic mix of clean and harsh vocals. Pitts fretwork manages to blend fury with melody in perfect balance. Coma shows off his own skills during a mid-set drum solo.
From Black Veil Bride’s second album, 2011’s Set the World on Fire, the band fired up “Fallen Angels”, “The Legacy” and “Rebel Love Song”. A quarter of the show tapped into the cinematic scope of the Wretched and Divine record. The band took a brief break while “Overture” played over the theater’s sound system, returning to the stage amidst funnel columns of smoke and bursts of flames for “Shadows Die”. Jinxx switched to violin for this track.
The band brought the house down with its final number, the apropos, “In The End”. A track which won the band Song of the Year at 2013’s Revolver Golden Gods Awards: The same year they also won the award for Best Live Band from Kerrang! and Alternative Press. They won the same award from Kerrang! this year as well.
The show is infused with the band’s wild abandon and teeming with exuberance. All brought to life through the lens of Casey Tebo. The disc also features a special Meet the Fans bonus.
Black Veil Brides have managed to do what so many new bands have not been able to, and that is to bring back some of the bombast and mystique of rock and roll that was lost in an avalanche of flannel in the early 90s. Alive and Burning captures Black Veil Brides in its element, tapping into the rebellious ethos of youth with songs that strike a chord, and a sense that maybe “rock stars” are not a thing of the past.