Picking up where 2013's Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones left off, Vale sees the goth-glam metal troupe once again reveling in the dark pageantry of rock & roll by way of a narrative-driven 12-song set that's generously stocked with fist-pumping singalong choruses, buttressed with wordless gang vocals and slick guitarmonies. Easily their most pop-oriented release to date, Vale finds Black Veil Brides completely jettisoning their metalcore past, and while they may have lost some bite in the transition, it kind of suits them. The band's 2014 eponymous fourth long-player, while not directly linked to the rock opera that preceded it, didn't deviate too far from its predecessor's overall message -- rise above, speak truth to power, I am sad, etc. -- and Vale follows a similar path, though it does make some semi-direct references -- spoken word sections and orchestral flourishes abound, as does a general predilection toward pomp and melodrama. Frontman Andy Biersack continues to be an engaging presence, despite delivering lyrics that sound like they were assembled via a Warped Tour-themed magnetic poetry kit, and the band has a knack for putting new coats of paint on familiar melodies -- the plucky singles "The Outsider," "When They Call My Name," and "My Vow" land of all of their punches, even though the listener can see them coming from a football-stadium field away. Five albums in and BVB continue to grow, albeit slowly. While the feisty, Imagine Dragons-meets-Twisted Sister vibe remains their forte, it's Vale's pop proclivities that ultimately win out, suggesting that future endeavors may rely less on fighting the man, and more on working alongside him.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger