Black Veil Brides have bounced back from a 3 year album drought to shower the fans with some pretty stellar music. The Phantom Tomorrow takes the band back to the realm of concept writing for the first time since their 2013 release Wretched and the Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones. The album’s narrative and cover follows The Blackbird, who’s a Batman like protagonist who acts as the righter of wrongs through a field of different scenarios in an almost apocalyptic future.
The band released the album’s first track Scarlett Cross as its first single in November of last year. The song’s opening riff immediately gets your attention that sets up Andy Beirsack’s signature vocal prowess. Its uplifting chorus elevates the tone of the song and is once again lifted from there by the resonant group vocal hymns and is capped off by a stellar dueling solo by Jake Pitts and Jeremy Ferguson. Blackbird takes on a more euphoric aspect musically and with motivating lyrics like “Hold on to hope. Take back your soul. And they cannot steal the light”. The track’s lead guitar work throughout lends excellent voicing between Beirsack’s vocal climbs.
Torch would be the album’s first use of electronic elements which would continuously add different layers to every application. BVB created a more atmospheric feeling with this than any other on the record. It really deviates from the conventionality of your typical BVB track but is a solid example of where they can take their songwriting abilities. Shadows Rise will come in as the album’s longest running track at just under 5 minutes. The song’s somber string and violin intro may have you feeling like you’re in a Sherlock Holmes movie but that sentiment comes to a halt as the slaying guitar and galloping double bass enter your ear drums. But for me it’s the harmonious riff between the guitars and violin during the song’s climactic crescendo that was the high point.
Of this 12 track audible and lyrical journey there was not a better example of Andy’s vocal range and power than Fields of Bones. There have been multiple shining moments on this record where Biersack’s voice would really take off. But none quite dazzle like this. The song’s chorus at times seemed operatic and euphoric while his voice elegantly navigates each verse’s path of pinch harmonics and crunchy riffs. It also would make good use of multiple well placed gang vocal spots before and after Jake Pitts’ stunning solo.
BVB go from one extreme to another as they flip the switch and unleash the heaviest song on The Phantom Tomorrow with Crimson Sky. Right out of the gate we’re met with a crushing riff and cymbal mutes before it launches into an all out double bass assault by Christian Coma. This would be another example of how well the clean vocals play off of heavy riffs while punchy “HEY” gang vocals make their way through. And the moment I had been waiting for all album for had finally jumped out of my speakers during this song when I heard SCREAMS! Believe me. I am all about cleans in metal in pretty much any way you can lay them down. But there were a few tracks on this record where I thought they could have been perfectly placed and match the brutality of those riffs. And if that is my only gripe from the record, Black Veil Brides really did something right.
Kill The Hero would kick off with a sinister guitar lead section before another head banging induced main riff would take over. The chorus would be a showcase for Andy’s climbing and descending vocal melody that you can’t help but sing along to. The song would conclude itself with an in your face triplet driven breakdown under Andy’s soaring vocals. Closing out Black Veil Brides latest installment is the emotional tidal wave Fall Eternal. This symphonic ballad would certainly be the most harmonious of the bunch as it brings an end to both the album and the emphatic story of The Blackbird.
BVB albums for me have mostly been hit or miss. Some tracks here, some tracks there. But after the first play through of The Phantom Tomorrow I would start it over and let it go. This was definitely an album that I enjoyed from start to finish and not even worry about finding the fast forward button. Andy Biersack’s vision and storytelling on this album paired with the music that was built around those ideas truly made the difference and really won me over. The band did an amazing job creating stunning videos to tell the story visually of each of those songs. Despite this being a concept album where new ideas and approaches to writing can veer away from the staples that fans want to hear, Black Veil Brides certainly had those subtle moments where their true musical nature would shine through. Our Dread Rating for The Phantom Tomorrow is 4 out of 5.