Throughout history, art rejoices and revels inthe wisdom of women.
Within a deck of tarot cards, the High Priestess serves as the guardian of the unconscious. In Greek mythology, the old oracles celebratethe Mother Goddess.William Shakespeare posited portentous prescience in the form of MacBeth’s “Three Witches.” On their sixth full-length albumRitual,In This Moment—Maria Brink [vocals, piano], Chris Howorth [lead guitar], Travis Johnson [bass], Randy Weitzel [rhythm guitar], and Kent Diimel [drums]—unearth a furious and focused feminine fire from a cauldron of jagged heavy metal, hypnotic alternative, and smoky voodoo blues.
It’s an evolution. It’s a statement. It’s In This Moment 2017...
“It’s like we’re going into the next realm,” asserts Maria. “I had a conviction of feeling empowered in my life and with myself. I always write from a personal place, and I needed to share that sense of strength. I’ve never been afraid to hold back. Sometimes, I can be very suggestive. However, I wanted to show our fans that this is the most powerful side of myself and it’s without overt sexuality. It’s that deeper serious fire inside of my heart.”
“What Maria is saying comes from deep inside,” Chris affirms. “This time, we had a bunch of ideas started before we hit thestudio. There was a really clear direction. It’sdifferent.”
The group spent two years supporting their biggest album yet 2014’s Black Widow. Upon release, it seized their highest position to dateon the Billboard Top 200, bowing at #8.Simultaneously, itclinched #3 on the Hard Rock Albums chart and spawned a series of hitssuch as“Sick Like Me,” “Big Bad Wolf,” and “Sex Metal Barbie”—all cracking 8 million Spotify streams each and topping Rock Radio.Meanwhile, the band’s signature smash “Whore” crossedthe 20-million mark.
Furthermore, thetitle track off In This Moment's 2012 album, Blood, has been certified gold by the RIAA. A remarkable accomplishment,the companion music video for "Blood"has been viewed over 27 million times.
Between headline tours, they incinerated stages everywhere from Rock On The Range to Download Festival. In March 2016,Maria and Chris commenced writing forwhat would become the new recordwith longtime collaborator and multiple GRAMMY®Award-nominated producer Kevin Churko [Five Finger Death Punch, Ozzy Osbourne] at his Las Vegas compound.
Following a high-profile summer 2016 tour with Korn and Rob Zombie, the duo began writing. Then, Maria visited Salem, MA for the very first time with all of the women in her family quite appropriately during Halloween.
“We were really tapping the energy there,” she says. “We were honoring each other. I was seeking inspiration and experience to inspire me in this album. I was trying to find a lot of truth in myself. I loved Salem. I was blownaway by how visually beautiful it is. The history of the witch burnings is fascinating. It was a special ceremonial journey.”
Galvanized and inspired, Maria and Chris returned to Kevin’s stronghold to complete recording. In an atmosphere ofcandles, crystals, incense, and a cacklingfireplace, they expanded their aural palette once again, welcoming a doom blues bombast into the sonic fold.
“We love Black Widow, but it was very electronic,” Chris explains. “This is a little more organic, emphasizing guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. We slowed down the groove a little bit. I got to play some slide guitar, and I’ve never done that. There’s a bluesy side, which we’vealsonever had.”
“We always want to grow and evolve,” Mariaadds. “It was a chance to get a little more serious.”
That progression shines through the first single “Oh Lord.” A minimal drum and handclap echoes as Maria’s wild incantation takes hold. Guitars shiver and shake as the frontwoman delivers an undeniable refrain.
“The meaning of ‘Oh Lord’is central to the album,” she reveals. “I should be able to have a relationship with what I perceive God to be. Forme, it’s this strength and light. When I was younger, I felt guilty for thinking of these things. I’m not supposed to touch an oracle card, atarot card, or these beautiful things,because they’re ‘bad.’I had these fears in me for a long time like, ‘Is this wrong?’I realized I don’t have to be afraid anymore. There’s a lot of learning and an awakening in that one.”
Inverting everyone’s favoriteBilly Idolnuptial anthem, “Black Wedding” sees Maria walk down the aisle of musical madness with none other than Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford. Co-written with Stevens, it’s an explosive and enchanting duet.
“I can’t believe thathappened,” beams Chris. “Maria hit up Rob and asked if he was interested. He jumped right on it. I can’t believe we got him.”
“Who doesn’t love ‘White Wedding?’,” laughs Maria. “We wanted to do a spin-off that’s creative. It’s a question-and-answer between me and another voice. The chorus essentially says this isn’t going to be the opposite of a happy ending! You’re becoming empowered by heartbreak.”
Chris breaks out the slide on the raging “River of Fire,” while “Witching Hour” dances around the flamesto a new wave-inspired groove and midnight lore as Maria recants, “This idea of me being burned as a witch in a past life for teaching people to be free.”Elsewhere, “Roots” practically opens up the earth with its sheer seismic force.
“Sometimes, I have to go through pain in order to forgive and let go,” she adds. “I love to thank the hate in people. It’s that sort of energy. I’ll be okay, hold my headstrong, push forward, do what I’ve got to do, and prevail.”
Simultaneously, In This Moment breathe a dark new life into the Phil Collins’ classic “In The Air Tonight.”
“We can’t reproduce what he did in a million years,” she says. “It’s one of the best songs ever. We did our own interpretation and made it a little more sinister like ourritual.”
The ritual has begun, and In This Moment ignite abrighterfirethan ever before here.
“When fans hear this, I want them to feel the music, whether they take away sadness, anger, or happiness,” concludes Chris. “As a kid, I remember listening to records and putting them on repeat over and over again. I’d love for the worldto listen and absorb thisas a piece of work.”
Maria leaves off, “I want everybody to be unafraid of who they are and not worry about what the rest of society says. Be strong. Be loud. We love our fans deeply. I hope everybody feels that love and powerful in who they are.”
Art relies on a delicate balance between dark and light. In order to reach heaven, you have to go through hell. In order to enjoy bliss, you have to endure devastation. In order to rise, you have to fall. In order to be a leader, you have to be a little wild.
Black Veil Brides confidently take the lead with their third full-length album, Wretched and Divine [LAVA Records/Republic Records]. Boasting a compelling concept, the record sees the Los Angeles quintet—Andy Biersack [Vocals], Ashley Purdy [Bass], Jinxx [Guitar], Jake Pitts [Guitar], and Christian Coma [Drums]—deliver a collection of songs that's as immersive as it is infectious. Hallmarks of their sound like gritty riffs, orchestral flourishes, elegant soloing, and anthemic vocals remain intact. At the same time, everything expands gracefully into the fabric of an intricate post-apocalyptic drama about The Wild Ones penned by Biersack and artistic collaborator Richard Villa III. Ultimately, Wretched and Divine opens the gateway to a new world altogether.
Think you can handle it?
Coming off the road in support of 2011's Set the World on Fire, Black Veil Brides made a collective and conscious decision to break ground when they entered the studio. They couldn't just make "another album"; they needed to make a statement this time around. After a few sessions, they found the perfect man to help them realize this vision in producer John Feldmann [The Used, Neon Trees, Panic! At The Disco].
"I was going through a bit of darkness artistically," admits Biersack. "We couldn't just take a logical step from Set the World on Fire, and I knew that. We had to make a giant leap. I wanted to find a fresh way of expressing what our band was both lyrically and creatively. I met John, and we simply clicked. We brought him on board immediately. He was able to take our ideas and mold them into something really incredible. It was cool to be with him every day in that creative mindset. We've never had a producer there for the entire process. He pushed us to reach the next level."
In between recording, the band hit the road for a string of dates, and Biersack began envisioning a much larger concept story for the album, writing it on buses and planes. As a result, the songs weave together to tell the tale of a dystopian future where a unified church government is devouring society through taking away science and creativity. This despotic regime drugs the youth into becoming drones, but refugees named The Wild Ones—the band's fictional alter ego—inspires the kids to be themselves and revolt.
"In essence, it's the origin story of the band and the BVB Army," he reveals. "At the same time, it's not a musical. You can listen to any track as a standalone Black Veil Brides song. If you choose to go on the ride, there's a story. It's the soundtrack to our lives and lives of The Wild Ones. It's got elements of everything we've done, but it's different. It's high-concept, but it's also personal."
Speaking of personal, the first single "In the End" possesses a twofold meaning for the frontman. Seguing from a chant of children to a staggering riff and dreamy keyboards, the track exudes divine implications as it relays a universal story.
"About a week before 'In the End' was written, my grandfather died," says Biersack. "I was thinking about the funeral. I said the eulogy in front of my entire family. When we got back to my grandfather's house afterwards, I had this intense realization. We may do good or bad, but we only really exist in the minds, eyes, and hearts of the people we affect throughout life. If you affect them positively, your memory lives inside of them, and that's the way you move on. After I finished writing, my mother sent me something my grandfather wrote to my great-grandfather before he passed. Almost line for line, it spoke about not being afraid to die and even used the words 'In the End'. It was heavy. In the story, The Wild Ones are fighting this enemy. Throughout, they realize you can never truly escape fears or defeat darkness. However, if you can die without fear knowing you've done good, you've won."
Other voices populate the world of Wretched and Divine as well. Aiden and William Control singer Will Francis gives the ominous four-part "F.E.A.R. Transmission" narration, tying together the action from the Orwellian villain's point of view. The Used frontman Bert McCracken adds a dark vulnerability to the explosive thrasher "Days Are Numbered".
Fans have definitely felt everything that Black Veil Brides have done up to this point. In 2010, they laid the groundwork for their legion of supporters to be born with We Stitch These Wounds. The album debuted in Top 40 of the Billboard Top 200 and No. 1 on the Independent Chart, leading to their signing with LAVA.
In support of the record, they headlined the coveted Alternative Press Tour and were crowned "Best New Artist" at Revolver's Golden Gods Awards and "Best Newcomers" at the Kerrang! Awards. In addition to appearing on the Vans Warped Tour, they scorched the stage at Download Festival, Bamboozle, and Rock am Ring. Meanwhile a year later, Set the World on Fire debuted at Number 17 on the Billboard Top 200, and the band hit the road with Avenged Sevenfold and Hollywood Undead. Transformers: Dark of the Moon and The Avengers both included the band on their soundtracks, and their pop culture infiltration continued. Along the way, they amassed one of the most rabid fan bases in modern music, affectionately dubbed BVB Army.
Everything has simply led up to Wretched and Divine though. "This is the album we always wanted to make," concludes Biersack. "I hope our fans can be inspired to create and make their own art from hearing this. I want this to give them freedom."
Spoken like a true Wild One.
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