Pierce The Veil – The Jaws Of Life (Album Review)
Pierce The Veil – The Jaws Of Life
Released: February 10, 2023
Vic Fuentes | vocals/guitar/keyboards
Tony Perry | guitars
Jaime Preciado | bass/backing vocals
“The sun is gone but I have a light“. – Kurt Cobain, ‘Dumb’ from Nirvana‘s album In Utero (1993).
It is truly remarkable how immortal these words written by the grunge luminary Mr Cobain have become. In a sense, Nirvana arguably became a saviour of rock’n’roll, directing the genre away from the pop-metal oversupply of the 1980s toward an alternative punk indie rock fusion shaped by raw emotion. They essentially became a lighthouse for where rock’s sinking ship required guidance on the way to illustriousness once again.
On April 5th 1994, the music world was horrified and left aghast at the news of Kurt Cobain‘s untimely death; the supernova band had sold tens of millions of records and are still to this day one of the most streamed outfits on planet Earth influencing artists in practically every sub-genre of alternative music. Nirvana were no more as an active outfit, their “sun” had set, but their “light” still shines beyond brightly.
California’s Pierce The Veil may not appear to be a group that take direct influence from the aforementioned grunge Gods upon listening to their discography – undoubtedly the trio of songwriters (quintet when touring) utilise the infamous “loud/quiet” formula that Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic (bass) and Dave Grohl (drums) helped perfect decades ago. PTV‘s polished emotional post-hardcore instead cites standouts of the sound such as: Coheed & Cambria, Chiodos and Sleeping with Sirens more than Kurt & Co, that is until the release of the first single from their forthcoming fifth studio album The Jaws Of Life aptly entitled: ‘Pass The Nirvana’ in September last year.
The preceding “light” that has been discussed has become a lightning storm with how ferocious these three minutes and 17 seconds blind those who witness it, an electrifying shell-shock which pulverises repeatedly with its post-hardcore re-imagination of (possibly) ‘You Know You’re Right’. This track is an excellent explosion of song-writing aptitude that has accumulated over 13 million streams since its release. Although it has been revealed that song is actually in reference to the difficulties the youth of the USA have suffered through the pandemic and continue to languish in instances such as school shootings – this is an anthem for the disaffected and unbelievably this is just a chapter on what Pierce The Veil‘s new full-length possesses. Let’s turn the page…
Opening with ‘Death Of An Executioner’, a siren song with a death rattle introduction that builds to familiar territory for PTV with a bouncing melodic post-hardcore surge into Vic Fuentes high pitch vocals – at this point though, the track embraces a more minimalist approach with mostly crunching bass, a marching drum beat, flutterings of synth from the era of New Order and that familiar voice serenading the listeners. It isn’t a departure, but more a development from what ‘The Veil have done in the past, albeit more animated and this is thanks to the production of MuteMath mastermind Paul Meany and his brilliant influence is felt throughout the 12 songs. Not to worry though, the song is undeniably still Pierce The Veil and could fit on any of their previous outings, even their delightful debut A Flair For The Dramatic.
The prior discussed lead single then follows as an eruption, it is simply put, otherworldly. ‘Even When I Am Not With You‘ is the love song ballad and a breath of air required after the outburst prior – to a degree its aura presents itself as a collaboration with Owl City. Then ‘Emergency Contact’ follows this collaboration motif – except this alliance showcases a Violent Soho sharing studio space with Fall Out Boy notion. It doesn’t read as an amalgamation that should be harmonious, but that is the virtuosity of Vic Fuentes, Tony Perry and Jaime Preciado their chemistry finds impossible bonds.
‘Flawless Execution’ is a composition featuring more exploration following the footsteps of All Time Low with their LP Dirty Work, this number gravitates to an electro-rock-pop pattern with modern R&B influence, it is slightly eschew to be honest. Most importantly though, it is as if the whole body of work is overseen by Claudio Sanchez which adds a saving lavishness. The title track then throws another spanner in the works, a Your Favourite Weapon moment in time concoction, with an obvious modern shine. ‘Damn The Man Save The Empire’ is made for contemporary cinema; if there is ever a sequel for The Faculty here is THE song for the film. Ironically, ‘Resilience’ follows with an exert from the film Dazed & Confused before encroaching on a country/western lullaby which then continues to graduate to the Coheed instruction to a degree, although all of this is what PTV do and do very well, explore music, not confine.
‘Shared Trauma’ is the song Pierce The Veil should have written years ago. This falls into Haux and The Antlers refinement and it eclipses the notion of stunning – electronic, atmospheric and enchanting. Vic‘s vocal delivery is so calming and organic, that this could be a meditation rhapsody; in all probability this would be a stroke of genius from the MuteMath recipe book. ‘So Far So Fake‘ capitalises on the former, a heavy dancing number that is as much screaming punk as it is aggressive pop, it fits so perfectly with the Pierce The Veil design that if the title wasn’t so confronting, it probably should have been the album’s name.
‘12 Fractures‘ to close is in a sense the “credits” song to the film that was broached upon earlier. There is an extensiveness from fan favourite ‘Hold On Till May‘ evident and Chloe Moriondo is exquisite as the track’s main ingredient. Yet the “Disney slow dance” effect seems a little too much like dessert when the LP has presented mostly adventure. Although, there is a popcorn flavour called: “Sweet & Salty”.
Continuing on the theme of “light”, famed American poet Robert Lowell once said: “The light at the end of the tunnel is just the light of an oncoming train”. Justifiably this is the best description of The Jaws Of Life – it is the ride that Pierce The Veil have been selling tickets for, it just needed to find the right track.
Pierce The Veil – The Jaws Of Life tracklisting:
1. Death Of An Executioner
2. Pass The Nirvana
3. Even When I’m Not With You
4. Emergency Contact
5. Flawless Execution
6. The Jaws Of Life
7. Damn The Man Save The Empire
9. Rational Fears
10. Shared Trauma
11. So Far So Fake
12. 12 Fractures
The Jaws Of Life is out Friday, Feb 10 via Fearless Records. Pre-order here
Review by Will Oakeshott @TeenWolfWill
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