Words by Brodie Ramsay
SoCal rock band Pierce the Veil have been trail-blazers in the pop-rock/ post-hardcore scene since their first album in 2007, ‘A Flair for the Dramatic’ – And since then, they’ve had a pretty consistent streak of churning out amazing and highly regarded albums roughly every three years. Their longest break thus far has been the gap between their last album in 2016, ‘Misadventures’, and their latest, set to be released on February 10, 2023 – ‘The Jaws of Life’. The gap no doubt due to a combination of the global pandemic and the allegations leading to the bands severance of drummer and brother to Vic Fuentes, Mike Fuentes, from the group.
Unfortunate circumstances aside, Pierce the Veil fans can rejoice as this new album is set to drop.
The album is opened with Death of an Executioner – an ethereal droning reminiscent of carnival music kicks off the show, slowly becoming accompanied by drums – at first sounding like bongos, but quickly fading into the sound of a snare drum. This creates the perfect build up to what is going to be an unforgettable listening experience. The slow verses soon get broken up by a faster paced and impactful chorus – it emits a haunting sense of nostalgia, not just for Pierce the Veil, but for that early emo era that was 2006 – 2011.
By now we should have all heard Pass the Nirvana – it was the first single to be released ahead of PTV’s upcoming album. This is the heaviest track on the album and features a much grungier tone than a lot of the band’s previous work. I think a lot of people were caught off guard when this first taste of ‘The Jaws of Life’ was released, many complaining they “missed old Pierce the Veil” (Despite ‘Collide With the Sky’ being a plenty heavy album and featuring some of the bands most listened to songs…). Vic Fuentes has the perfect voice for dirty vocals and heavy music, and I’ll admit, when Pass the Nirvana came out, I was ready for the band to really lean into that style… Though, as it turns out, the style of this track was a bit of a stand-alone within the album.
Moving on to the third single released ahead of the albums launch – Even When I’m Not With You really sets the tone for what’s to come. ‘The Jaws of Life’ really sinks back to the band’s roots with quite a few much slower, more meaningful tracks. The whole album is very reminiscent of their first, ‘A Flair for the Dramatic’, and Even When I’m Not With You is the first real taste of that.
It opens on a distorted guitar and slow rhythmic vocals that make you want to sway in the wind or drift off to sleep. Ethereal synths back the entire song, making the whole listening experience feel like you’re wandering through a dream.
Emergency Contact is next, and this song really grew on me. No shade, but I didn’t enjoy it the first time I heard it. As this was the second single to be released, I may have just still been hung up on Pass the Nirvana… But every time I hear it now, it just gets better and better – and now it may very well be my favourite song on the album.
We open on some acoustic guitar and more of those celestial synths that have now become a bit of a motif throughout the album. This is the kind of song that instantly relaxes you. Light that incense, lay down and crank some Emergency Contact. No really, do it, the link is just above.
As we see in most of the tracks on this album, Flawless Execution opens with a distorted guitar rhythm and some melodic backing vocals. In come the drums, a fairly simple and repeated beat throughout the track. All this building to a powerful chorus that sounds like it belongs in an indie coming-of-age film… In fact, I’d put good money that before the year is out, it will feature in a Netflix Original film about a queer teenager seeking love over the summer vacation – the film will do fairly average in ratings but ultimately reach success amid a cult following.
Anyway, moving on… The last thing I’ll note about this track is that around 2mins 40secs, you will hear, what I consider to be, one of the shortest, and sexiest lost potentials for a guitar solo you’ll ever hear. I kid you not, if we don’t get an extended version of those 5 seconds during a live performance, I’ll be sending an angry letter to Tony and Vic.
At last, the song from which the album takes its name – The Jaws of Life. And honestly, fair enough using this one as the album title, because if you’re going to remember any of these songs, it’s going to be this one. The key guitar riff in this song will be ringing in your head for days.
More bangers as we go through Damn the Man Save the Empire and Resilience, both opening with cold audio clips. Damn the Man, titled after a tagline from the 1995 film, Empire Records, opening with someone shouting out a recording take – “Take 4,679, part 2… Hour 8, hour 8…”; and Resilience opening with an audio bite from the 1993 film Dazed and Confused – “…All I’m saying is, that if I ever start referring to these as the best years of my life, remind me to kill myself.”
These songs are followed by a short 22 second intermission titled Irrational Fears, wherein a flight attendant tells passengers what to do in the event of an emergency… As someone with an irrational fear of flying, this is indeed the scariest and most triggering section of the album.
‘The Jaws of Life’ was produced by Paul Meany and mixed by Adam Hawkins; both of whom have worked with Twenty One Pilots. If you didn’t already know this, it will certainly become apparent after listening to Shared Trauma. This song is straight up giving ‘Trench’ era TøP. A slow paced, lo-fi, reverby track of vibey bliss. The kind of song you hold your phone light up to and sway.
So Far So Fake picks up the pace again, teetering away from lo-fi and back into the pop rock genre. And finally the album is closed with 12 Fractures, featuring Chloe Moriondo. Chloe is a YouTube-started musician from Detroit, Michigan and makes a really lovely addition to ‘The Jaws of Life’. Not to over-generalise “YouTube pop”, but 12 Fractures really does give that Chloe Moriondo, Peach PRC, Cavetown kind of vibe. It is an excellent blend between the styles of Chloe and PTV and sends the album off in a really great way.
Some Pierce the Veil albums make you want to jump up and down on your bed, screaming your lungs out in ravenous excitement; others make you want to lay face down in your pillow and scream your tears out, exorcising all of your angst and life’s troubles away; ‘The Jaws of Life’ however, is more of a mellow out kind of album – a lay on your bed, stare aimlessly into the hazy room and fall endlessly into each surreal track, kind of album.
‘The Jaws of Life’ is a rollercoaster of emotions and a great listen – You can catch every juicy hit right now across all streaming platforms – LISTEN HERE.
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Thanks to Dallas Does PR