If it were up to Brantley Gilbert, he would have married his wife, Amber, years ago, but she wouldn't do it. She was terrified of him.

Or more specifically, she was terrified of his lifestyle at the time. "I remember her telling me the last time it ended" Gilbert tells Taste of Country, referring to the final time the two separated before eventually reuniting and marrying in 2015, "'You know I love you, and I want to marry you, but it terrifies me to talk about and think about marrying somebody that rides around with bottles of liquor in the console of their truck.'"

"That rang true," he adds, face tightening as he relives the moment. "It pissed me off, and I blew up, and that was a big breakup, and I really shot downhilll after that, but I wouldn't say she gave up on me."

The story of Gilbert's next few years has been well documented. He hit rock bottom and made the decision to give up alcohol and opiates, his two vices. "Sober" isn't quite the right word to describe the 32-year-old today (you'll find out why during Part 2 of this three-part video series) but he's most definitely a changed man.

The Valory Music Co.

Every album represents a chapter of Brantley Gilbert's life, and the "Bottoms Up" singer admits this has been an extremely positive chapter. Still, his new The Devil Don't Sleep album has a dark side. For every song ("Way Back," "Outlaw in Me") about his wife now there's a reference to the difficult journey to the altar. "You Promised," a song on the deluxe edition, is a punch in the chest. "Bullet in a Bonfire" is a warning. "It's About to Get Dirty" does exactly that.

"I met my wife 13 years ago, and when that breakup happened it was really fresh," Gilbert says. "I still feel like it's a part of this story."

This is the first of a three-part series exploring Brantley Gilbert's past, present and future, and how it all influences the 16 songs on his newest album. It's a dynamic project that's at times uncomfortably honest. Few artists bleed like Gilbert does, but he's figured out that once old wounds heal, scars serve as eternal reminders to not repeat the past.

Watch Part 2: The Devil Still Whispers

See Pictures of Brantley Gilbert and Amber Cochran