The Evolution of a Band’s Sound

Let’s take two great bands. Different bands that hold different places in my heart, but nevertheless great bands. These two bands are Fall Out Boy… and Black Veil Brides. Now, I know that there is a lot of negative thoughts toward these bands – angsty, melodramatic, only good for teenage girls… I might be able to agree with the first two, but I’d mean it in a good context.
I have had the pleasure of growing up with Fall Out Boy. When most people call them these things, they’re usually thinking of their first two albums, Take This To Your Grave, and Under the Cork Tree. Those were their garage sounding, angst to the limit albums.
I can understand where the opinions might differ on those albums. When I first heard them, I was very young… I was just strolling down puberty lane, and to me, it sounded very hardcore. I was entering my teenage “rebellious” phase, so stuff like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance fueled my “emo” years. I had the hair and the dark clothes to match, so Fall Out Boy fit like a glove.

But their grunge-like first two albums weren’t the ones I heard first… no, my first introduction was when “Thanks for the Memories”, one of the lead singles off of their third album, Infinity on High, was coming out.
So naturally, I listened to Infinity on High before the first two, and so I was even younger. This album was NOT grunge-like, not “emo” in anyway, (except for maybe their outfits and styles… Pete Wentz in particular), but there was still that young angst, but it came in a much cleaner package. The brash outspoken lyrics and vocals were exchanged for clever metaphors and analogies and it didn’t sound nearly as rough. In fact, they even had an entire song based around their change and telling people to accept it! (At least, that’s what I got out of it).

I listened again and again, and when I heard they had other albums I pounced on them, like I said before, further fueling my punk phase.

Their albums came out every few years. And like normal people do, and like the members of the band do, their sound changed even further.

But by the time their fourth album came out, I stopped listening to them. I don’t remember why, or what for, but I did. I still listened to their older stuff quite a bit, and as I aged I even grew to understand and enjoy Infinity on High and all of its metaphorical nuances a bit more. But I didn’t keep up with them anymore, and that’s when I began listening to Panic! At The Disco, more or less FOB’s brother band, but that’s another story.

After enjoying Panic!’s discography and awaiting their third album, I learned about Fall Out Boy’s fourth album that didn’t get a lot of attention, wasn’t as well recieved, and I hadn’t heard a thing about; Folie a Deux.

French for ‘The Madness of Two’ this album had been lost to my view for over three years. When I began listening to it, I had learned that Fall Out Boy had gone on ‘hiatus’… but most of the fans took that as a break up.
As I listened to this album, I came to realize that this was the missing step in their evolution… and it was BRILLIANT.

Take the growth from the last album, and let it evolve again. Both albums had the same themes, for the most part, and lots of fans consider to be a sequel to Infinity on High. But here, it’s taken to the next level. Any angst that was left from the previous album? Gone. Any roughness around the edges? For the most part, gone, with a little left for good measure. Did Pete Wentz try to do one of those screams? No. Thank god, that was gone.

This was a great album. Still Fall Out Boy, enough of a transition to lead us into the changes, and everything that was changed had done it beautifully.

Fast forward to early 2013.
News had been swirling around of a reunion. Little ‘leaks’, misplaced tweets, rumors were roaring that FOB was coming back.

Cue February 4th. There I am, on Facebook and Youtube… and in my suggestions a little video pops up.

My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.

My heart raced. Fall Out Boy had released a new single… the rumors were true! And to top it all off… the title of the song was the same kind of angsty, long as all get out title that we had grown accustomed too from Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco.

A return to roots, perhaps?

Then I listened. And I was shocked. Scared. And of course, a little pumped up.

My beloved Fall Out Boy… had gone hip-hop.
Mainstream. (I swear I’m not a hipster, don’t hate me)

For goodness sake, 2-Chainz was in it!
And… they broke the first rule of their own music. Never mention the title of the song in the song itself.

Now, they broke that rule before, but it made SENSE before. ‘Thanks for the memories’ and ‘I don’t care’ being lead examples, but when they started singing the title… I didn’t have a clue what it meant. The subtitle, ‘Light ’em up’, fit a lot better, and a ton of non-fans would know the song by that.

I felt a little betrayed, but still… a little ecstatic. I was ready for the album to see what would happen.

On the days heading to the release date, another couple singles were released. I felt about the same for all of them, and still went forward with my excitement.

Then, one day I was doing my daily browsing, I came across a post by Fall Out Boy on Facebook.
They had released the entire album… in full, for listening on their website a little bit before the physical release.
My heart skipped, I jumped, and I listened through those forty minutes with anticipation.

This isn’t a review on that album, so I’ll keep it short; I was disappointed. I remember thinking to myself the entire way through,

“Yeah, it’s okay”

as if trying to justify how I felt. I mean, this wasn’t what I expected from FOB. They had Courtney Love, the frickin’ queen of punk, and they couldn’t make the music a bit more hardcore? This didn’t feel like Fall Out Boy, this felt like Generic 2013 Radio Band #27.

As time went on… I grew to enjoy it. A lot, actually. A lot of the music is very good to get pumped up with, to get excited… I frequently use the album on jobs. The first track sounds like a call to arms, (which is basically what the music video shows it as), and is very good to get the blood flowing.

I just think that being with them for so long, I didn’t want to understand or deal with the sudden change. The entire band is in their thirties, at least two of them are married, and at least one of them has children. I can’t expect them to sing about dudes stealing their girlfriends, and homecoming dance anymore, can I?

So I’ve learned to accept their evolution, even if it went in a direction I didn’t necessarily enjoy at first.

I’ve listened to all of their albums since then, multiple times, enjoying all of their merits and seeing how they fit together.
Then, early September, the same old cycle came around.

New song.
My excitement.
Release of said song.
My surprised reaction.

This song is called ‘Centuries’. You can find it on Youtube, iTunes and Spotify. Next week, I’ll have a review on the song posted that will sort of conclude my thoughts on this post.

Now… that’s Fall Out Boy, but what about Black Veil Brides?

This band I started listening to a little more recently. The kind of kids I hung out with in Middle and High school were these kind of… faux hardcore kids. Bands like Sleeping with Sirens, Asking Alexandria… the genre of ‘screamo’, generally synonymous with ‘crap’.
There is nothing wrong with an angry roar, or a soulful growl in your music… but when the entire song is in this guttural, beast-like scream? It’s terrible. What’s even worse is when someone tries to sing a love song like this.

Black Veil Brides, at first glance, seemed like another one of those crap-mo bands my friends tried to get me to listen too. The band dressed like a Motley Crue/Kiss lovechild, and most of it was that loud ‘fauxcore’ that I knew all too well. But I decided to give the first album a try all the way through, and boy am I glad I did.
About halfway through, my ears were graced with ‘The Mortician’s Daughter’, a gorgeous, well flowing love song with acoustic guitar and the lead singer’s admittedly talented vocals.
Where the hell was this?! This was brilliant! And unlike a lot of other bands of their type, the lead singer actually had talent.

After that, the album went back to screamo for most of the album. I did enjoy a nice rock song entitled ‘Caroline’, but those two songs were really what made Black Veil Bride’s first album, We Stitch These Wounds.

The second album was more of the same. Nothing great there.

Then came the third album.
Oh my god, my wish came true.
An honest to goodness rock album.
THIS was an evolution!

Wretched and Divine, despite having a rather melodramatic title, was an excellent rock album for 2013. This was more rock then any modern band had been able to achieve for awhile without being a subgenre.
This is what growing up, this is what evolution was all about. And this was without a doubt the best evolution for a band’s sound in the last ten years. Maybe fifteen.

I was pumped up and ready for their next album. I didn’t think it could get any better for a former screamo band. Worst case scenario is that they go backwards… best case is repeat in style and form.
Hoo, was I wrong.

Black Veil Brides has released two singles off of their fourth, self titled album. Entitled ‘Heart of Fire’ and ‘Faithless’ respectively. You can listen to these on Youtube, Spotify, and also buy them on iTunes. My final impressions and reviews of these two songs will come next week along with the Fall Out Boy review.

Well… in short, at guess the heart of this post is the point that bands and their members and their sound, they change and grow with us. We can choose to accept these new directions if the band means that much to us, we can roll with the punches… or we can choose to push them aside in favor for the older materiel, and be stuck in the past.  It’s our choice.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 3:25 AM


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