Pierce the Veil | The Jaws of Life Review
by Griff Stevens
Resurfacing from the obscurity of a seven-year hiatus, Pierce the Veil strikes back with their long-anticipated fifth studio album, The Jaws of Life. This album endeavors to chart the turbulent seas of identity, love, loss, and societal tribulations – it’s a daring expedition, but does it anchor successfully in the listener’s heart?
To begin with, the band’s audacious attempt to evolve is evident throughout the album. The trio’s opening salvo, “Pass the Nirvana,” blends traces of nostalgia with a refreshing sonic metamorphosis. Guitarist Tony Perry and drummer Jaime Preciado lend solid support to frontman Vic Fuentes, infusing a vitality that threatens to burst at the seams. Yet, an added robustness from the acoustic guitar could enrich the verses. The warm hum of the electric guitar fills the pre-chorus and chorus, a stark contrast to the low-fi sounds dispersed throughout the album – a jarring divergence, indeed.
Produced by Paul Meany and mixed by Adam Hawkins, the album dabbles in a delicate dance of glossy vocals, pop-infused production, grungy guitars, and sporadic screams. Unfortunately, a lack of consistency dulls the impact of this otherwise ambitious effort.
In tracks like “Death of an Executioner” and “12 Fractures,” the band dabbles in unexpected territories with synth-laden soundscapes and echoes of nineties-grunge influences. These departures from the norm are intriguing but ultimately lack a resonating, enduring punch. Their mastery in crafting indelible melodies, a defining trait from their past works, takes a backseat. Case in point: “Even When I’m Not With You,” a slow-burning number occupying the crucial third-track slot, is a letdown with an ill-fitting electro-pop hi-hat pattern.
The album’s lyrics often walk a tightrope of adolescent romanticism, as exemplified by “Even When I’m Not With You” and “Shared Trauma,” ultimately falling into a realm of ‘whatever’ sentiment. On the brighter side, “Pass The Nirvana” strikes a relatable chord with its more mature narrative.
The band’s decision to pack the album’s front end with all three singles raises eyebrows and stirs uncertainty about the remaining songs. “Damn the Man, Save the Empire” hearkens back to their familiar vibes, a welcome nod to their roots amid the experimentation. Sadly, songs like “Irrational Fears” and “Shared Trauma” merely pad the album, with the former serving as a sonic misstep and the latter an electro-pop misfit.
Despite these misfires, the album contains nuggets of brilliance. “Flawless Execution” exudes a Radiohead-esque aura, both sonically and lyrically. “So Far So Fake,” laced with grungy guitar, rhythmic throb, and a catchy chorus, is a tantalizing slice of Pierce the Veil’s classic edge.
Essentially, The Jaws of Life shows Pierce the Veil’s aspiration for growth and the exploration of novel themes. However, the album’s erratic quality and questionable sequence, dipping toes into the muddied waters of electro-pop, yield a mosaic of mixed results. While it may satiate their die-hard fanbase, the album may need help to resonate with fresh listeners or casual fans. The band’s signature pop-core sound and unconventional songwriting approach are preserved, but the execution, this time around, leaves much to be desired.
The Jaws of Life
Release Date: February 10, 2023
Label: Fearless Records