By Greg Maki
You’re forgiven if you thought “The Phantom Tomorrow,” the sixth studio album from Black Veil Brides, had been out for quite some time. After all, the lead single “Scarlet Cross” debuted nearly a year ago, and following what feels like about 6 million plays on Octane later, I don’t know if there’s a recent hard rock song I’m less eager to hear again. It’s not that I hate the song; it’s an inoffensive nugget of modern radio rock with a perfectly hummable main riff and melody. But like most of the record—and how I view the band as a whole—it just kind of sits there, knowing it’s doing enough to garner airplay and not trying to push further to turn potential into something truly memorable.
The album’s—and the band’s—greatest assets are guitarists Jinxx and Jake Pitts, who crank out some nice, crunchy riffs and, when given the chance, a few tasty leads (“Born Again,” “Fields of Bone,” “Crimson Skies,” “Kill the Hero”). Frontman Andy Biersack’s deep vocal stylings have grown more emotive over the years, yet a lack of range still plagues him and, thus, the entire record. There’s a “sameness” from song to song that the band only occasionally overcomes. Not coincidentally, the album’s most interesting moments are a pair of instrumental selections—the introductory title track, which builds from soft strings to a full-blown orchestral arrangement, and the atmospheric “Spectres.” Strings pop up throughout the recording, most prominently on the closing “Fall Eternal” and integrated most effectively with the band’s usual sound on “Shadows Rise.”
Black Veil Brides fans—an extremely devoted following—will dig into “The Phantom Tomorrow” much deeper than I have, especially since it’s a concept album based on a story idea from Biersack. But for the uninitiated—i.e. people like me—there isn’t enough of interest here to warrant a closer look.
Sumerian Records – October 29, 2021