Though they haven’t released anything for seven years, Pierce The Veil are one of the most important bands in the alternative scene. Their evolution from album to album is nothing less than stunning. They may take their sweet time between releases – with 2012’s Collide With The Sky and 2016’s Misadventures having a four-year gap – but it’s made worthwhile with pre-eminent music, something that’s paved the way for the band to become a true arena act.
Admittedly, the San Diego trio couldn’t have picked a better time to return. Between TikTok trends resurrecting decade-old pop-punk and emo hits, spreading them like wildfire to a new surge of listeners, and the majorly sentimental lineups When We Were Young Festival are promoting, it was only a matter of time before Pierce The Veil rejoined the ranks. Even their platinum hit “King For a Day” featuring Sleeping With Sirens’ Kellin Quinn has re-entered streaming charts, thanks to TikTok, and shot to number one. Despite this, the American rockers know better than to cash in on said nostalgia – instead, the latest addition to their repertoire, The Jaws Of Life, finds the band taking new routes, approaching their sound from a multi-faceted perspective whilst channelling inspiration from all previous eras.
Majestic opener “Death Of An Executioner” stays true to the bands classic rock roots. The anthemic track displays tremendous attention to detail with rotating waves of crashing emo rock and hardcore breakdowns before lead single “Pass The Nirvana” swaggers in. Dedicated to how the youth went through so much in a small amount of time due to the pandemic, the heavy track, which is full of intense guitars and vocals ranging from powerful belts to harsh screams, showcases the side of rock that pummels you to the core while putting the bands sonic maturity on clear display.
Still on the theme of trauma, tracks “The Jaws Of Life” and “So Far So Fake” don’t mince their words as they reference seasonal depression and other internal struggles. The title track – an interesting rock ballad full of guitar hooks straight out of the ‘90s – focuses on the external forces working against you in your own personal progression and despite the upbeat melody, the lyrics are anything but. “Maybe I should go and buy a gun,” frontman Vic Fuentes spins in a self-deprecating tone. “Point it at the mirror, make me run.”
Opening with gratifying math rock, “So Far So Fake” expresses the energy it takes to appear content when, in reality, withdrawing from the world seems much more appealing. The gnarly track sonically mimics the internal tug-of-war struggles with depression through its use of disjointed drum patterns and fading choruses, both of which cause the off-kilter, choppy track to come together beautifully. Featuring elements taken from the alt-rock, progressive rock and lo-fi pop genres, both tracks (“The Jaws Of Life” and “So Far So Fake”) feel like they could pretty much fit on any of the bands previous records and, with their painstaking honesty, make for album highlights.
Abounded with deadly serious subject matters, Pierce The Veil enduringly navigate it all with grace. Sonically, The Jaws Of Life moves past the bands staple post-hardcore sound they’re most loved for, leaving a more experimental and methodical one in its place; though elements of their past still linger in the form of distinctive guitars and meticulous honesty, Pierce The Veil have managed to avoid the danger of sounding outdated. They are back at the top of their game following their seven-year absence and we’re embracing them back with open arms.