Fear, Fright, and The Top Five Best Horror Films

Horror.

I love it.

Horror is my favorite genre of film, it is my favorite genre of book… I grew up with R.L. Stein’s Goosebump series, moved through his teenage books, and graduated to Stephen King, my favorite author of all time. Video games that include horror usually rank higher than others… Bioshock and the original Half-Life are two of my favorite games of all time.

There usually aren’t many medium level horror fans. Either you stray away, or you embrace it with open arms.
The feeling of fear is such a complex emotion, and the horror or terror that accompany it, if done correctly, leave long lasting impressions.

I’m frequently disappointed with modern horror. Too much of it relies on shock value and gore, rather than even attempting to induce the psychological terror that makes some horror movies so great. That’s the problem- people think blood, guts, and brains will make people afraid. Not anymore, with each generation becoming less and less sensitive to violence, this doesn’t work as much. And the people that do enjoy gore-fests, these are people that either enjoy them simply as a spectacle and not something to fear, or they are just easily entertained and freaked out.

But for the people with my kind of taste, it takes some work to freak me out. I mean… really, freak me out. Sure, you can get me startled with a jump scare, but that isn’t fear.

You want fear? I have got fear. In honor of October, every post until the end of the month will be horror related. And today, I am going to give you my top five favorite horror movies… because of the fear factor, the writing, the camera work… these are legitimately good movies.
Also, just to help us out, I won’t be covering dark comedies, or funny horror… you won’t find any Shaun of the Dead here.
And this list IS definite. This isn’t subjective, no, these are the best horror movies to grace the big screen.
(Sarcasm doesn’t come out quite right through writing. That was sarcasm, if you couldn’t gather.)

Possible spoilers.

NUMBER FIVE

Misery – 1990 

I already said that I love Stephen King. Forget the fact that a lot of his books have the same similar plot, all take place in a small town in Maine and involve an author who likes to get drunk, Stephen King is my biggest inspiration and my favorite author. Frequently, though, as it usually is the movie adaptions of his books aren’t always on par. I enjoyed The Shining. The Green Mile, all the obvious ones. I didn’t like Carrie, or IT, or Cujo… but one of my favorite books got one of my favorite movie adaptions of ANYTHING, and subsequently became one of my favorite horror movies.

For me, a good bit of the horror didn’t directly come from what Annie actually did, but simply from the possibilities of what she COULD do. The moments when Paul was roaming around the house when she was gone, or hiding the blister-pack of pills? This was probably the hardest my heart has ever pumped with fear.

I’m also a fan of Kathy Bates. I don’t seek out everything she does, but when she’s in something I watch it is always a nice surprise. Her character is very creepy. Not terrifying per-say, but the unpredictability of her personality and how she can burst at the drop of a dime is pretty freaky.

Misery is a movie that any Stephen King fan needs to see… and a pretty good horror film for anyone that can handle the slow pace, and the HUMANITY of it all. There are no aliens, or monsters, or demons. Just an insane woman. And for some people, if there is no supernatural aspect they just can’t be bothered.
But for everyone else… it’s a real good time.

NUMBER FOUR

The Stepford Wives – 1975 

Ooooh. Just thinking about this movie freaks me out. This is a strange case, actually… I saw this movie once. When I was maybe eight years old. I need to watch it again, actually.

But what ranks this on my list is a few reasons;

Firstly, it has stuck with me. I’ve remembered this movie for a long time, it’s been lodged in my head, and it’s always been so freaky to me. The scene close to the end, with Joanna’s double and her black eyes… the entire mansion scene entirely, actually, was so terrifying to me. And it’s funny, because the terror doesn’t really apply to me. It’s about men trading their human wives for perfect robots. I wouldn’t be affected in the first place.

But just the thought… the buildup to the end, the suspense and the mystery throughout the entire movie… it was freaky. And good. And ever so poignant. This was made nearly forty years ago, but it still makes sense today. With misogyny still a prevailing factor in today’s society, it’s not just a scary movie. It’s a brilliant statement.

NUMBER THREE

Poltergeist – 1982

What can I say about this movie that hasn’t been said? Poltergeist is a classic example of a good horror movie. It’s frightening, chilling, and once that suspense explodes into that wonderfully chaotic climax you won’t want to go to bed. This is another movie I saw at a young age, but I’ve seen it multiple times since. I’m just lucky I never had a tree by my window – although to this day, white noise is still unsettling.

And of course, what makes it even freakier is the supposed ‘curse’ that came with the films. Nearly the entire cast of the movie ended up dying a few years later. As the sequels came, the original actors dwindled. Of course, it could just be a coincidence, but I guess we’ll never know for sure…

NUMBER TWO

A Nightmare on Elm Street – 1984

This movie managed to blur a slasher film with a psychological horror film, and it is perfect. It did so many things never done before, and introduced so many new concepts. Take Freddy Krueger himself, the main antagonist of the series. Never before had we had a villain like him, one with a personality and a wit and a face. Someone that knew what he was doing and relished in it.

Before, all of our mainstream monsters were silent and somewhat tragic. Take Jason Voorhees, the hockey masked killer of the Friday the 13th series. He didn’t kill from spite. He didn’t kill from hate.
He was killed because of teenage negligence. Now the whole ‘have premarital sex, do drugs and get slaughtered’ theme has become a trope used in many subpar movies. But here, there was a reason. He was a mentally challenged kid who drowned in a lake because teens were busy screwing in a cabin.
Then another teen comes and murders his mother, albeit for a good reason, but from his point of view, what does it matter?
He kills for his mother. He thinks that he is doing GOOD. It is somewhat like the old Boris Karloff ‘Frankenstein’ movie. That scene with him and the girl by the lake is one of the most memorable scenes in horror history.

Freddy, while he might have had some mental issues of his own, he was smart and aware.
And it helped.

Two scenes from this movie stick out in my mind. The long arms in the street, (ugh), and the bloody body-bag in the hallway.
This was terrifying! I saw it at around ten years old, in the bright day, with my Dad by my side. It still frightened me to death, but as I grew up I learned to embrace it.

This first movie in the Elm Street series was fresh, scary, and well made. I love dreams, and I love the concept of a dream killer. It was so surreal… and made me think twice before I laid down to sleep.

This movie was pretty much perfect. It caused nightmares for years, and then inspired my own work and turned me into a fan of the series in my teenage years.
What movie could do better than that? Have the full circle effect?

Well, it used to be nothing. A Nightmare on Elm Street was the epitome of everything I loved in a horror movie. Utterly terrifying and yet so much fun.

Utterly terrifying and yet so much fun.’

Then I saw number one.

And if the above statement doesn’t fit with this movie, I have no clue what the hell does.

NUMBER ONE

The Evil Dead – 1981

Never before had I been so scared and loved it so much. This movie is like the film equivalent of a roller coaster ride.
Excellent buildup. Great acting. This film was a b-movie back than before it got so popular, but for a b-movie everything really works.

The scenery.
The makeup. Oh god, the makeup. Brilliant, sloppy, and creepy.
The camera angles are famous. Sam Raimi really did some interesting work on the angles, spinning around and running from a demon’s point of view, twisting and going all over the place… it helps with the whole ‘roller coaster’ thing I mentioned before.

The plot of the movie is really simple, and is now a common thing. A group of friends go out to a cabin, find the Book of the Dead, and reawaken demons who terrorize the friends.

One by one, they drop, until the only one left was the nerdiest one of them all – Ash Williams. Over the course of the trilogy, he becomes the epitome of bad-assery, but going into this movie with no knowledge, you’d never expect he’d be the one to survive the onslaught.

Things are insane. The effects are just so… great. They might have been done cheaply, but they work much better then a lot of other b-movie effects. Especially the blood. Anyone who has seen the movie knows exactly what I mean.

The movie is insane, and scary, and so violent… it makes the adrenaline run and your blood pump, it puts you on the edge of your seat, makes your eyes wide… even if you wanted too, you could never turn your eyes away.
It’s too crazy. Too fun. Too morbid and wild and amazing.

I have a hard time discussing this film technically without simply gushing.

Okay.

Deep breath.

Simply, this film is a masterpiece… if you are into this kind of thing. The thing is, it masters a combination between camp and horror. No doubt that this movie is scary as all get out, but the amount of camp they have in there simply works without dumbing down everything else. They add it without making it stupid, when these crazy things happen it gets really unsettling, it puts a pit in your stomach. You are watching insanity, you are watching a man go insane, you are watching possession of people and objects. It can get very startling.

As I said before, the makeup really works. It probably wasn’t anything all that special, but it looks great. The blank eyes, and the rotting flesh, and the spewing blood…  It gives it that sort of unnatural feeling, and it makes the whole b-movie thing really work to its advantage, instead of against it.

Plus, after you’re done with this, you have a pretty freaky sequel that increases the camp a few more notches while retaining most of the fear factor, and then the third and final movie which doesn’t even earn the horror title. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a great film, one of my favorites. But the third film, entitled ‘Army of Darkness’, doesn’t even contain the Evil Dead name. If you look it up, it’s classified as a dark comedy. But that shouldn’t stop you from rounding out your experience with Ash Williams and his adventure.

These are my top five favorite horror films of all time. I will watch any of these, any time, in a heartbeat.
This IS a subjective list, based on my own personal preferences and experiences. If you don’t agree with something, don’t take it personally. If you want to let me know your top five, let me know, I’d be glad to read it.

But that is it for now. Next time, we’ll return to form and talk about the difference in horror and terror in writing, and I’ll give you a little insight into my upcoming horror novel.

Until then…

That’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 3:41 PM

Advertisements

Previous post final thoughts and Song Reviews

Last post, I talked about the evolution of a band’s sound. Now, I was a bit biased, and I spoke with one example, that being Fall Out Boy. This was more of my personal experiences with the changes and evolution, and how it made me feel, rather than the technical and broad impression I wanted to give off. There have been MANY other musical evolutions… take The Beatles, for instance. From leading the way of pop rock, to the beautifully strange and psychedelic rock, and back again.
There are many things I didn’t discuss in the previous post…  but I just want to make it clear that those were my thoughts there. More opinion than fact, and a whole lot of relative impressions, so take it as you will.

Now, the purpose of this post, is to finalize those thoughts, and give you the reviews of the singles I discussed as the latest evolution of those two bands. As we did last time, let’s start with Fall Out Boy… and their song, Centuries.

Centuries, for me, is a mixed bag. As a song, it’s brilliant. Loud and proud and roaring and more than a bit arrogant. Patrick Stump’s vocals are brilliant as usual, the guitar is well played… (from what I can hear of it), and the drums are very obviously there.
The lyrics are clever, rhyme well, although they do seem to feed off of a narcissistic theme. I don’t know if it’s a gimmick/joke or what,  but Fall Out Boy has been on an arrogance kick since their comeback. What with them saving rock and rock last album, (although there wasn’t much rock and roll there. I didn’t think pop and hip-hop was going to save rock and roll, but okay), and now them declaring that you will ‘remember them for centuries’, and that they’ll ‘go down in history’.
It is a powerful track. As a song, it is a GOOD song, don’t let that be mistaken. But from a fan’s perspective… gone is the punk. Let me make that clear. This is not a punk song, everything is clean cut, there is no roaring guitar or brash vocals. It’s very… systematic. They are, as I have said many times throughout the past two posts, are becoming a pop band with hip-hop influences, while they used to be a punk rock band with pop influences.

When I go to listen to Fall Out Boy, I usually turn to the median of their discography spectrum; Under the Cork Tree, and Infinity on High. These albums seem to be the golden eggs.

Under the Cork Tree is a great album that has a lot of the raw punk rock, all the while being nicely clean cut and produced. It isn’t too brash, and it isn’t too studio. It’s a very nice in between.

And Infinity on High, while very nearly another genre, maintains a solid Fall Out Boy vibe with the lyrics, Pete Wentz’s attempts to scream in a couple of the songs, and Patick’s Stump’s soulful vocals. This one did lean on pop rock, emphasis on the rock, and although they collaborated with some rappers for a couple songs, (namely ‘This ain’t a scene, it’s an arm’s race’), they didn’t let it affect it to the point of being unpleasant. In fact, I enjoyed ‘This ain’t a scene, it’s an arm’s race’ music video a lot… because the rap/hip-hop influences were sort of explained and dealt with. In the video, the band is dealing with the famous lifestyle, it made fun of a nude photo scandal Pete Wentz went through, and all in all was a fun song.

Save Rock and Roll was tough for me. It is a great album, but it is still hard for be to comprehend it being Fall Out Boy. ‘Centuries’ is more of the same… but they are going further and further away from what made them famous in the first place.
I’m going to wait for the rest of the album to make it’s way, then I’ll buy it, take a listen, and make a final judgement. But for today, Fall Out Boy’s ‘Centuries’ gets a 3 out of 5.

Now let’s look at Black Veil Brides. I’m going to cover both of their singles, ‘Heart of Fire’ and ‘Faithless’, together.
These songs are… to put it simply, great.
I am a huge fan of classic metal, i.e Judas Priest, Dio, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden… so on and so forth. These days, the meaning of the metal genre has gotten skewed. Today, what used to be metal is hardly considered hard rock. And what today’s metal USUALLY is, is so terrible that they didn’t have an equivalent back then.
Now, I’m not an expert on all of the various subgenres of metal… death metal, black metal, death core, thrash, I mean… all I know is metal, and heavy metal. There isn’t a need for all of these extra meanings and genres. And I gotta tell you, Black Veil Brides achieved something I never thought any modern band could… especially one that started off screamo.

Black Veil Brides has achieved the sound of classic metal.

Now, they label themselves as simply ‘rock ‘n roll’, and starting last album I could definitely go with that. Whatever you want to call it, they have achieved the sort of ‘classic’ sound that has been lost with many modern bands. I mean, I couldn’t even name a simple ‘rock ‘n roll’ band if I tried. Punk rock? Sure. Pop rock? Yup. Folk rock? Got a couple. But I haven’t a band that I could simple call rock and roll for a long time, because there is usually the need to add a prefix to it to define it even further. But good, classic rock doesn’t NEED to be defined. Rock and roll simply ‘is’.
And that is what Black Veil Brides achieved here. Both songs are fairly heavy, yes, but not heavy enough to ruin it. The single I listened to first, ‘Faithless’ is rather comparable to the Judas Priest song, ‘Dragonaut’ off of their latest album. The drum is a little similar, but what I really mean is that they are just the same style. And when a band that formed in 2006 can even be compared to a legend like Judas Priest, then there is something that needs to be said.

Out of the two songs, ‘Heart of Fire’ and ‘Faithless’, the latter is my favorite. This is where a lot of my compliments are directed. Now don’t get me wrong, both are GREAT songs. But for the pure classic vibe I was talking about… ‘Faithless’ just showcases it a bit better.
And look at the cover art! Don’t tell me that couldn’t easily be on any other classic metal band’s album. (Minus the BVB emblem.)

‘Heart of Fire’ gets a solid four out of five stars. The only thing that keeps it from being a five is there is a small scream around the two minute mark, and I’m sorry but I’m not a fan of screaming. Everything else is superb, and is a treat to the ears.
‘Faithless’ gets a four and a half out of five stars. Black Veil Brides has come a LONG way. And I am thoroughly enjoying their evolution through the rock and metal genres. Say what you will about them, (and people do), as a classic metal lover, Black Veil Brides just gets something right as a modern band that many other bands of their age do.

And that’s about it. Both songs have their merits, that is for sure, but Black Veil Brides have made the cleaner, more progressive evolution, and I’ve simply enjoyed it more. Each album gets better and better, and they’ve continuously stayed on track. That means something.

I will be back on Wednesday… I’ve gotten a bit off track on what this blog was about, and we’re going further off track. Wednesday I’ll be discussing. comparing, and contrasting Apple products and Android products. How I’ll be covering that in a single blog, I don’t know… but I’ll get it done.

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

– Brandon, 1:32 PM

 

‘Hesitant Alien’ Initial Review

I am a huge My Chemical Romance fan. I enjoy all of their albums, (except for maybe their VERY first one, under Eyeball Records), even the one that changed their sound dramatically. It still worked. It was still My Chemical Romance.

Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge is a beautifully depressing album. Borderline concept album, it starts strong, and has a heavy finish.
4 out of 5 stars.

The Black Parade took everything that was a little wrong with Three Cheers, and fixes it for the better. This time it is a concept album, following a cancer patient as his life flashes through his eyes before death. Even the songs I used to skip are songs I now love. Great album through and through.
5 out of 5 stars.

Danger Days; The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys was a step in an entirely new direction. So it was fresh, but it contained some of same hardcore elements from the previous albums, leaving out the sort of Gothic vibe from before. Great album, great lyrics, great back-story… like The Black Parade, any songs I used to skip (and there was only one) are now integral parts of the Danger Days experience.
5 out of 5 stars.

Conventional Weapons was a complication of previously unreleased music from between the release of Black Parade and Danger Days. Great music that combines the vibes of both of those albums, put together in a way that fits and doesn’t feel choppy at all.
4 and a half out of 5 stars.

My Chemical Romance broke up in 2013, much to the sadness of myself, and many others. I bought their compilation album that had another previously unreleased track on it, ‘Fake Your Death’, that, I won’t lie, made me cry. Even now, thinking of it, my eyes get wet.
So MCR is a touchy subject for me. They are probably closer to my heart than Fall Out Boy, so I find it hard to say anything bad about any of the members or albums.

So when I heard Gerard Way, the lead singer, was going solo and was releasing his own album, titled ‘Hesitant Alien’, I got excited. More music from the same voice as MCR, I thought;

“Maybe if I close my eyes it’ll sound like My Chemical Romance’s fifth album.”

I carried this sediment around with me, waiting for the release. Gerard Way released the full album for streaming a couple of weeks ago, and the physical release came out today.

This is a review, song by song, as I listened to the album all the way through in-depth, for the first time. This is an initial review, because with multiple listens, my opinions can change drastically.
And this is MY personal opinion… as a long-term fan of MCR. Unlike some people, I wasn’t going to be belligerent and not listen to the album just because I miss My Chemical Romance. In fact, quite the opposite.
So let’s take a look, track by track, at Gerard Way’s ‘Hesitant Alien’.

1. Bureau

This is a strange beginning to the album. Weird beat, very distorted sounding. There was probably some ‘artsy’ reason for doing this, but it is downright unpleasant to listen too.
1 out of 5 stars, completely.

2. Action Cat

This song is great. Very fresh sounding, not much like MCR at all. It is obvious that Way is eager to shake off the sounds of MCR, and it mostly succeeds here. Although to fine tuned listeners, I could have possibly seen this being on MCR’s swan song album, Conventional Weapons.
4 out of 5 stars.

3. No Shows

Way’s vocals are VERY under powering here. Even more so then the previous tracks. And when you do hear his voice, the lyrics are rather slurred and jumbled. Now he has always been somewhat of a slurred singer, but his vocals were at least always upfront and obviously there, even if it was a bit hard to understand. But the further we go here, the more it becomes incomprehensible. Otherwise, the beat, sounds, and instruments are delightful.
3 out of 5 stars.

4. Brother

LOVE the intro. So far, the intros on this album have been good, always giving you high hopes for the rest of the song. Way’s vocal’s have cleared up a LOT. Very nice beat in the background, pleasant and light. For once, Way’s great vocal’s are actually coming through a bit.

A fourth way through the song, vocals get distorted a bit again, but I suspect it was the chorus, and it clears up. I enjoyed it though.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

5. Millions

Good guitar intro… drums follow soon after… easy to tap your foot too. Leads into vocals decently, but they are STILL underwhelming. About half-way through this album, I hope this doesn’t become a common theme. I enjoy Way’s voice, but the instruments are VERY overpowering. When he was with MCR, his vocals were very loud, brash, sometimes harsh. And although he was known to slur, you could easily hear him at least.
Here, the vocals fade into the background. Shame, too. I heard that his brother, Mikey Way, former bassist for MCR, did background vocals but I couldn’t distinguish them.
Overall, it’s nice, but a bit plain.
3 out of 5 stars.

6. Zero Zero

Once again, the intro is great! Drums are heavily featured, and the vocals are still incomprehensible, except for the occasional ‘Zero Zero’ making its way through. You know what, from now on, unless I say otherwise just assume the vocals are lacking.
There seems to be an echo effect going on, and I’m not liking that.
More than half-way through the song, with the drums dominating and the vocals barely on the back burner, it’s an okay albeit disappointing track.
2 out of 5 stars.

7. Juarez

Loving how the guitar and drums are working together. It seems like you can count on the intro being good just as much as you can count on the vocals lacking.
Although, the vocals do sound clearer, but fuzzy. Way may have thought the effect added something, but for God’s sake, I want to actually hear HIM and what the vocals are TRYING to say instead of some sound effect.
It gets nearly terrible near the end. Although, I can sense that perhaps the chorus MIGHT have been catchy if you could actually understand him.
2 out of 5 stars.

8. Drugstore Perfume

Intro is… interesting. A bit different, but it sounds promising. I hear a little acoustic guitar going on, and the vocals are still fuzzy but a little more upfront. I get a sort of psychedelic vibe from this.
It sounds pretty smooth, and the instrumentals are a lot more light than the other tracks.
This is the longest track on the album, at four minutes and forty-nine seconds, and it shows. It goes on a bit long, but maybe if he cut off the extra, say, forty seconds this would have been a bit better.
Once again, sounds like it would be catchy if I could understand him.
3 out of 5 stars.

9. Get the Gang Together

The previous song leads into this, and once again, nice intro a some electric sounds pulled in.
Way sounds… among everything else, almost bored. I don’t know what causes it to sound that way, so I won’t comment.
I do like the sound and beat of it, and I’m enjoying the background vocals.
This song feels like it was pieced together. It’s just weird.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

10. How’s It Going To Be

First of the last two songs. As I type this, I am still on the previous song, but I have high hopes for these final two.
Starts with a drum beat and a nice rhythm.

Ooooh! This is nice! Different vibe, and I’m enjoying how the drums are the main source of beat here.
Way does sound a little like he’s speaking through a robot voice changer, but I still enjoy everything else.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

11. Maya the Psychic

Final song. I’m conflicted on whether to be relieved or disappointed here, but here we go.
Good first impressions, like always. Just waiting for the song to kick fully into gear.
I am enjoying the use of the tambourine.
Eh… fades into mediocrity soon. Vocals ARE a bit cleaner through a good portion of the song, although it doesn’t help much now.
It is lacking the sort of fanfare I usually expect a finale to have, it just sounds like they could have easily put this song in the middle and there’d be no difference.
Still enjoying the tambourine.
It DOES come together nicely at the end… and it has a good finish. Sounds more like a final song at the very end.
I still wish the vocals were clearer.
3 out of 5 stars.

Alright. There is Hesitant Alien.
From what I read, Way was going for a sort of Britpop feel. I am not a connoisseur of Britpop so I cannot comment on that, or how it affects the album.
All I can do here… is offer the opinion of a hardcore MCR fan checking out Gerard Way’s solo album. So this does have an MCR fan perspective, whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you.

First things first, if you casually enjoyed MCR, or were just into their big hits, this is NOT for you. Unless you are a fan of the aforementioned Britpop, do not think you are getting another My Chemical Romance album.
And for hardcore fans like me… as I said before, you cannot go into this with an MCR mentality. This is not My Chemical Romance, it doesn’t sound like My Chemical Romance. Gerard Way has shed the MCR sound, and whether successfully or not is up to you.
I do think hardcore fans of My Chemical Romance should go and give Gerard Way some support, and buy the album and take a listen. He’s delved into unfamiliar territory, and you have to give him props for even trying. And with our support, hopefully he can make the needed improvements, (like a better showcase of his VOICE), for his next album.

This isn’t an album you are going to find on the radio, I can almost guarantee that. So if you’re into that hipster mentality, go and eat your heart out.
This album is DEFINITELY worth the around thirty-five minutes of your time. Even if you just listen to it on Soundcloud, or Spotify, turn it on and give it a gander. It’s different, and you SHOULD try it. Even if it is just for the experience.

But overall…
here’s the final score.
This album would have been rated higher, if Way’s brilliant vocals were up front on the stage.
And this album would have been rated lower if the sounds, beats, and instrumentals weren’t so good.

Gerard Way’s first solo album, Hesitant Alien, gets a 3 out of 5 stars. It is a decent album, and certainly a different experience.
Any MCR fans should take a listen, and go buy the album to support Gerard in his first solo endeavor. You can find it on Amazon and iTunes.

  • And until next time… that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 11:17 AM

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.
Rap.
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