Pierce the Veil – The Jaws of Life [Review]

Review : Jack Price

It’s been 7 years since we got an album from California’s Pierce the Veil and it was worth the wait. After announcing their hiatus back in 2018, it’s great to have some new material headed our way. From the very start of The Jaws of Life, you can tell the boys have been hidden away, working hard at what they do best. Continuing with their Latin influences they are renowned for, the boys have delved across artistic boundaries to bring us tracks with everything from raging anger-fests to toned down, melodic tracks.

While Pass The Nirvana has amassed a well deserved 1.7 million views in four months (more on that shortly), it’s the opening track, Death Of An Executioner, that I could easily add to any playlist and enjoy it every time. The eerie, distorted calliope funfair intro that swells into this post-hardcore/pop-punk riff sets the scene for this track perfectly. Vic Fuentes croons his way through the verse, before setting up the chorus with a charmingly catchy bridge. The chorus then jumps up a gear, ensuring a singalong, demonstrating Vic’s clever lyrics and vocal range. The guitar solo is fast paced and set up by clapping ala mariachi style, before a drum roll and echoed scream from the band’s energetic frontman.

Pass The Nirvana is a perfect example of how Pierce the Veil can very easily put the Punk back in Pop Punk. Aptly named, this track is a testament to grunge and punk. The rhythmic riffs and droning bassline could have easily been pulled from a Nirvana track, followed by Vic’s screeching vocals and pitchy, palm muted guitar in the chorus that feel very Refused-esk. From the first riff, you can’t help but headbang to this catchy tune. The track ends like a smack up the back of the head with Fuentes belting out the hook.

Vic Fuentes’ way with words is mostly open to interpretation but tracks like Even When I’m Not With You are more direct. The proclamation of affection and absence of a loved one, moving on from the past and reflection on what has been built. The final verse of the song highlights the emotional hypocrisy of relationships and the bonds built as people grow together.

The band shows how they have matured through the years with songs like the title track, Jaws Of Life, and Damn The Man Save The Empire, showing their angsty, rock and roll roots. The entire album shows the versatility of the band from synth track to Latin inspired guitar and even a little hardcore, but nothing compares to the track So Far So Fake. It grows like panic, with sudden breaks of vocal distortion and synth beats like a joke during an argument, slowing down for the calm before the storm. And boy, does the storm hit in this track with a cool and calculated post-hardcore breakdown before the catchy chorus and a nice fade out.

While there are uplifting tracks on the record like Resilience, throughout the album there seems to be an underlying theme of the 5 stages of grief. There are nods to denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance in the bluesy ballad 12 Fractures, featuring indie pop artist Chloe Moriondo. Her vocals compliment Fuentes’ perfectly for a song about longing for a lover long let go, chances not taken and loss, while also touching on suicide and self harm. The track is a brilliant contrast to the beginning of the album that is in your face and full of attitude, bringing it full circle in a calming climax.

Pierce The Veil – The Jaws of Life is out now via Fearless Records.
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