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Album Review: Andy Black – The Shadow Side

3 min read

Andy Black ventures away from the harsher glam metal rock sound he is known for within his band Black Veil Brides, with his debut solo album, The Shadow Side. With an album that has been tempered with more 80s pop and punk rock sensibilities than Black Veil Brides and a vocal delivery reminiscent of Hinder’s leading front man Austen Winkler, there is a clear distinction that this is a solo venture of exploration away from Black Veil Brides.

Described by Andy as an album inspired by “80’s synth and goth music”, it is a wonder why Andy refers to his gleaming solo project as just a “hobby”. If it is, in fact, a hobby, he has seemingly mastered it already. But then again with a “mid-2000’s all-star team” of collaborators ranging from members of The Madden Brothers to Fall Out Boy to My Chemical Romance to Blink 182 contributing, you wouldn’t expect any less. Not to mention The Shadow Side was also produced by the pop-punk mastermind, John Feldmann. Putting all those factors together, it all just makes sense.

It definitely is a departure from his work on Black Veil Brides, but that is the point. Representing yourself on your own should always sound different to how you would represent yourself in a band. In comparison to Black Veil Brides, everything is a little more distilled and streamlined in The Shadow Side, but Andy’s raspy voice balances out the negatives that could come from that. On The Shadow Side, he neither feels out of place nor lost. It isn’t a complete 180 from Black Veil Brides, but it’s definitely enough to create the separation between himself and the band.

Ribcage with its deep low tones and claps in the pre-chorus that acts as a frame to the slap in the face chorus that follows, proves that even songs with a generous amount of emo style lyric, such as, “Nothing in the cage of my ribcage, got no heart to break, like it that way.”, can still sound blazingly anthemic.

Gone are the days where emo is perceived as a genre that renders the listener as a weak and powerless individual pining for better days. Andy Black encourages the pain, if only, so you can reach the happiness. “It’s a beautiful pain”, a lyric from Beautiful Pain, simple in its wording, but very representative of the album’s theme, that pain is necessary for growth. Contradictions like that always make it interesting for an audience.

Even the slow tempo tracks like Love Was Made To Break with its underlying heartbeat-like drum, still sounds anthemic and uplifting, while still evoking the emotion of a ballad.

Andy Black combines the perfect mix of emo-core musical elements mixed with 80’s synth which makes for a unique sound that only adds to the curious paradox of the lyrical theme of beauty bearing pain, and in return, pain bearing beauty.

Andy Black seamlessly swoops through from the fun drum kicks of his first solo single, We Don’t Have To Dance, to the chanting cheer on, Stay Alive, to the heartfelt open letter call out for help in Put The Gun Down, and somehow never fails to lose pace or attention.

With a fan base already built from Black Veil Brides, venturing solo for any band member, in general, always has the ability to draw more fans or upset the old. It also has the ability to place pressure to exceed solo, or, like in Andy’s case, has the blessing of enhancing an already stable career, while giving leeway to creative freedom and expression. The Shadow Side sees Andy taking full advantage of that freedom, even if it is only as a, quote, “side project”.