Pierce the Veil, The Jaws Of Life
Pierce the Veil are nostalgia. Not in a cheap thrill, play one song at a party then go back to the regularly scheduled playlisting singalong and forget way, but insomuch as they truly did soundtrack a time. And then, to be fair, many of us did leave them behind, alongside teenage sleepless nights and desperate naivete. The golden trio of Collide With The Sky, Selfish Machines, and A Flair for the Dramatic are a self-contained opus of emo brilliance, for many as era-defining as your Black Parades and AFYSCOs. Misadventures, while a good post-hardcore record offering up its share of mosh-along bangers, dipped a little in vitality although it did see PTV through their biggest rooms. Cue eight years of silence.
In a way that sets them apart from the MCR/Fall Out Boy/Panic side of teenage angst in music, Pierce The Veil’s absence wasn’t so conspicuous because there were new, truly brilliant bands breaking through in post-hardcore and filling that gap with passion and energy. But now, returning to centre stage, Pierce the Veil make those eight years felt. From the opening throes of opening track Death Of An Executioner, it’s hard not to shiver with glee as you’re immediately thrown back to however old you were last time you loved Pierce the Veil. It’s all there: the lilting, 6/8 rhythms, the vicious bass grinding up against Vic Fuentes inimitable instrument of a voice, a lead-in to a chorus that just begs to start the jumping. Pierce the Veil, we find as they kick off their fifth album, is a genre of its own, immediately recognisable and mania-inducing.
With King For A Day doing numbers on TikTok and ‘alt’ slipping in and out of the mainstream, it would be easy to cheapen The Jaws Of Life to an exercise in nostalgia and nothing else. But even with lyrics like “look how far we’ve come”, Pierce the Veil are self-aware and beyond such an exercise for the sake of it. The Jaws Of Life serves as a reflection – how could it not, for a band who have been around [number] years? But where ten years ago, Even When I’m Not With You’s countermelody could have been a liquid guitar line in the band’s trademark keening tone, here it’s a softly glimmering synth with the odd trap beat, high production and careful craft.
Everywhere on The Jaws Of Life are little surprises, sounds you didn’t expect to hear Pierce the Veil make but that fit so right and tell the right story. Shared Trauma is a lofi mooch through something that almost feels like giving up, soporific and sad and a sonic digression for PTV, but grounding it all are Fuentes’ expressive, lyrical vocals – a shouted background one for good measure, reverberating with emotion. It’s Vic’s delivery that’s the lynchpin around which the record revolves, in that it’s the hook keeping the band’s vast development in every other area sounding unmistakeably PTV.
In amongst a grittier bass tone, a punkier approach to this riff, dialled-up magnitude on that guitar line… Pierce The Veil have scaled up their instrumentals, and followed the same structural blueprint to bring their sound in line with where they’re at now. Flawless Execution is immense, So Far So Fake fluctuates in glitchy waves before letting loose in a subtle tsunami of a chorus, and nowhere more than on lead single Pass The Nirvana do the group flex their discordant, stompy muscles.
Pierce the Veil have aged with sheer grace and sleek intention. It’s every testament to them that the bubbling emotion you may get listening to The Jaws of Life doesn’t come from a fleeting feeling that you feel like you’re listening to a song from your youth again. The magic is that you feel the same way you did listening to CWTS for the first time now, all these years later, and it’s clear from listening that this record is set to endure in the same way.
The Jaws of Life is out now.