Released on: May 6, 2016
Record Label: Republic Records
Genre: Alternative Rock
When I first heard that Andy Biersack was coming up with a solo side project, I was slightly apprehensive at first because I wasn’t sure how he would fare without the whole “Black Veil Brides” facade. You cannot blame me – after all, like thousands of BVB fan(girls), I grew up watching Andy as a frontman/vocalist of Black Veil Brides. After Hot Topic released an exclusive video of
the-song-that-never-made-it-to-his-record-anyway “They Don’t Need to Understand” two years ago, I immediately knew that I have to check the record out when it is released.
The Shadow Side features 13 radio-friendly tracks, lasting 49 minutes in total. It revolves around his distaste for societal norms and his pursuit on his “shadow side”. It didn’t seem to borrow much references or musical influences either, as it has a grandiose pop-rock sound that only the man himself could reproduce.
My favourite track, “We Don’t Have to Dance” is everything the record is supposed to be. The track demands the listener to play it on repeat for about half a day to truly listen to the vocal and lyrical potential Andy Biersack has to offer.
From the first second when the synths kicks in to the last of his whispers, it has easily captivated with the groove; and the catchy chorus that sings “We don’t have to talk/we don’t have to dance/we don’t have to smile/we don’t have to make friends” just blew every other track out of the water. Personally, I feel that this particular track is the most meaningful to me because it seems like a personal reflection on relationships that resonates with how I feel about them in general.
You’re never gonna get it, I’m a hazard to myself
I’ll break it to you easy, this is hell
This is hell
You’re looking and whispering, you think I’m someone else
This is hell, yes
Can I just add that I really love the music video as well? The music video’s tasteful take on film noir cinematography effectively adds an alchemical touch to the mood of the video and complements the philosophy of the entire record.
However, if you like what you heard, don’t get too excited because the rest of the tracks may disappoint.
The likes of “Put the Gun Down“, “Drown Me Out“, and “Beautiful Pain” are what I would define as filler tracks – you’ll hear the repetition in lyrical style, melodies and riffs. It’s almost like pulling out a track from the latest Black Veil Brides record (oops?).
It is also notable that Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio (and now Blink-182 too) lends his vocals to the bulk of the second verse of “Stay Alive“, a track that sounds passionately positive and totally amazing; it is as if there’s two angels singing to keep you alive on this track. Although I wished Matt had more vocal time, it was a perfect balance between the two singers as they are both easily distinguishable.
If you’re looking for a record to get you through a tough period in your life, this could be worth poppin’ your eardrums for a listen. The Shadow Side is nothing short of positivity, lyrical maturity, and is definitely a fitting debut full-length album for the frontman of Black Veil Brides. I’m just puzzled why “They Don’t Need to Understand” did not make it to the final cut of the record because I really liked it a lot better than the filler tracks.
I’ve heard that he has recently entered the studio with Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) and producer John Feldmann (Sleeping with Sirens) for what seemed to be his sophomore solo record, so this will definitely not be the last we see of Andy Black.
I love it how Andy Biersack has evolved so much as a musician since his early Black Veil Brides days. Andy Biersack has such an artistic voice and individualistic musical direction – there’s just something about him (aside from his good looks) that will keep me wanting more from him as a solo act.
Who knows, he could be our 21st century’s David Bowie.
OVERALL GRADE: B
DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR AND LISTEN TO:
We Don’t Have to Dance, Stay Alive, Drown Me Out, Paint It Black, Louder Than Your Love
- Homecoming King
- We Don’t Have To Dance
- Stay Alive (featuring Matt Skiba)
- Love Was Made To Break
- Beautiful Pain
- Put the Gun Down
- Drown Me Out
- Paint It Black
- Break Your Halo
- Louder Than Your Love
- Broken Pieces
- The Void