After the extremely short spoken word intro Incipiens Ad Finem, the album proper gets underway with The Last One - a catchy number that sets the tone for what is to come. Despite opening with some sombre piano melodies, which soon see clean guitar and slow drumming added to the mix, it is not long before a big guitar lead, courtesy of Jake Pitts, comes crashing in and establishes the song as a strong mid-paced rocker. Ashley Purdy's bass guitar features prominently throughout as he drives the song with his thick, pulsing playing; all while the band's two guitarists lay down simple, but crunchy, riffs. Biersack has such an instantly recognisable voice, and his commanding delivery really helps the song to stick. The chorus in particular showcases this, with his poppy vocal melodies sitting perfectly atop the band's tight metal riffing. Black Veil Brides, and lead guitarist Pitts in particular, have never been afraid to show off their musical abilities and this song is no different with a short shredded solo towards the end that helps to inject a little flair. Lead single Wake Up is an anthemic piece that revolves around a percussive motif, led by Christian Coma's drumming, which features a wordless vocal call-to-arms from Biersack that then forms part of the song's chorus. Musically this is typical Black Veil Brides, with crunchy guitar riffs providing a strong backbone which allows the theatrical Biersack to shine. Pitts, along with rhythm guitarist (and occasional violinist) Jinxx, own the song's mid-section however with a fantastic dual-guitar solo that is far more accomplished than what is usually heard on your average modern commercial metal album. When They Call My Name is a bit slower, and takes on a slightly ballad-y vibe in places with the piano and orchestrations playing a bigger part in the overall sound. The song does grow in stature as it moves forward, with the traditional metal instrumentation starting to gain more dominance. The chorus here contains another wordless vocal section, which is something that the band seem to fall back on a lot throughout Vale. These sections are often memorable, but when the trope resurfaces in several of the song here it soon looses it's appeal. This song even fades out with that wordless refrain, and this is something I would like to see the band do less of in the future. The Outsider, which has been floating around online for quite a while now, is a really strong mid-paced effort that is one of the album's best moments. The song's sound takes me back to the glam metal-influenced sound found on Set the World on Fire (which is still my favourite Black Veil Brides album), and features a stadium-sized chorus to match! Pitts and Jinxx's riffs create a strong groove throughout the song, and the tougher overall feel really helps it to stand out from the crowd. Another excellent solo from Pitts adds to this, but it is the anthemic chorus where the song really shines - and it is one that will be in your head for days after hearing it. Dead Man Walking (Overture II) is a fairly lengthy song that runs in at over eight minutes. It is the band's longest song to date, and is not a bad first effort at a 'long' song. Heavier sections mix well with gentler, more emotional pieces to create a diverse sound. The long chorus is another strong moment with some really urgent-sounding vocal melodies - but the ending chorus section which repeat the phrase 'dead man walking' over and over feels clumsy and does spoil the effect somewhat. Despite this there is still plenty to enjoy here, including another excellent guitar solo (that actually has time to build and really 'go somewhere' this time) and a gorgeous symphonic closing section that references melodies from some of the album's other songs.
Our Destiny is a more traditional Black Veil Brides rocker, but again it relies heavily on some wordless vocal melodies which do not really add all that much to the song. Elsewhere however the song shines - especially during the verses which are led by a great tripwire guitar riff, which is perfectly matched by Coma behind his drum kit and augmented by some excellent orchestral stabs. It also contains a strong chorus which, despite some rather overly earnest lyrics (another of the band's occasional pitfalls), is memorable. The King of Pain opens slowly, with some atmospheric clean guitars and keyboards, and soon moves down a slightly more poppy route than is usual for the band. During Black Veil Brides' downtime, Biersack released a pop-influenced solo album under the name Andy Black - and this song definitely sounds like some of the DNA from that project has been injected into it. The heavier guitars are still present, especially during the chorus, but overall this song just feels lighter with more overtly poppy melodies. This is no bad thing however, and adds another string to the band's bow while helping the album to feel more diverse. My Vow is a short, punchy number that recalls the band's early sound with a driving guitar riff and a slightly punky attitude. Gang vocals are employed during the choruses, along with more wordless vocals (which actually quite work well this time), which really help the song to hit hard during it's short duration. Those who have been lamenting the more in-your-face sound that the band had on their first two albums will love this song, as it contains some of that youthful exuberance and strutting sensibilities. Ballad of the Lonely Hearts is, unsurprisingly, somewhat slower than much of what is found throughout the rest of the album. It is still not a pure ballad however, with plenty of riffing and dual-lead guitar melodies, but it is one that relies more heavily on the orchestral backing to create a strong atmosphere. Despite some good efforts however, I feel that this is one of the album's weaker moments. The chorus is, in my opinion, quite trite and lacks the razor sharp melodies that the band has built their career on. Luckily Throw the First Stone helps to get the album back on track with a real sledgehammer of a riff that is packed with real groove, that soon gives way to a bass-heavy verse which features lots of tricky drumming from Coma. The groovy riff from the song's intro resurfaces throughout, often accompanies by some rather menacing spoken word whispers that sound like something Machine Head or Fear Factory might have come up with in the late 1990s. It sounds slightly strange to hear Black Veil Brides doing it, but it works quite well and does not sound as forced as it could have. Vale (This is Where it Ends) is the album's closing number, and is another pseudo-ballad that opens up with delicate acoustic guitar melodies and a strong orchestral backing which creates a strong atmosphere. As with When They Call My Name, the song does build up somewhat as it moves along with crunchy guitar rhythms and drums being added into the mix, but at it's heart this is a gentle song that ends the album on a calm and reflective note. Overall, Vale is another strong outing from Black Veil Brides and one that sees them further the more mature sound they have been developing since 2013. While the band's newer work lacks the pure excitement of their earlier albums, the Black Veil Brides of 2018 is a band with more experience and one that shows more finesse when it comes to songwriting.
The album was released on 12th January 2018 via Lava/Universal Republic Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Wake Up.