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Album Review: Pierce The Veil- The Jaws of Life

Updated: Apr 28


I have SO MUCH TO SAY. I don't think I've ever listened to an album and immediately known it was going to be in my top albums of the year, but I just know that this is gonna be it for me. AND it's only February. My expectations were high, but man, it still went absolutely above and beyond. Overall, I'm just so impressed with everything, from the vocals & Vic's range, the guitar work which is just so unique to each song yet somehow consistent throughout the album, the production, and even the drums. I wasn't sure how I felt about the drums on the three singles, partly because they sounded a bit mechanical and partly because I knew it was no longer Mike playing. Overall, the album has a maturity that the ones before it didn't have, and I think a lot of that has to do with Vic & Tony both being married and Vic now being very close to being a father. The lyrics are no longer teenage heartbreak (although there's still glimpses of it), and instead a reflection of love and awareness of life. That being said, I'm going to break down each song in order of the album, and then rank them at the very end!


1. Death Of An Executioner

Holy crap! What a way to kick off the album! And that chorus! Already impressed with Vic's voice, but then again I don't think there's a single song that he sounds bad in. The guitar is hard, the drums are crisp. The part at 3:32 where the guitar screeches and the drums come in and then Vic screams is just INCREDIBLE. What a sound?! That might be my favorite part of this song. And then again at 4:07 where the guitar starts doing it's own thing is so cool! I like this song a lot too because it lets each member and his instrument shine a bit. Jaime's bass is msotly in the background, but man, you can feel it in the song. Someone said this to me about bass players a while ago, you don't realize how important that instrument is in a song until it's not there. That's how the bass acts in this song, but it fits so well, you can hear it when you're looking for it. Vic's voice has it's moments to outshine the others, and then guitars have their moments to outshine the others. I know Tony and Vic both play guitar so I'm not sure who is playing which part, but either way, the instruments shine. A perfect track to set the mood and sound for the album.


2. Pass The Nirvana

This was the first single released, and honestly the reason I was as excited for this album as I was. Such an interesting track, it really keeps the listener engaged and surprised for all 3 minutes and 17 seconds. It begins mellow with a "Yeah!" and some distorted guitar that floats around your head, and then BOOM! THOSE GUITARS COME IN FULL BLAST! It's a revolutionary experience to listen to this, truly. Then it slows back down a bit, the acoustic guitar makes an appearance, and Vic's voice comes in crisp and clean, and then begins to distort at "why you always saying let the good times roll", but only a little bit. I love the line "if you didn't come home injured, would you say it was a good show?" Brilliant lyric. And then the BUILDUP. WOAH. Vic's voice escalates right into the chorus and then he starts doing what we know him for, that super throaty and passionate scream. Holy crap. And then the guitars come back in full force, and the screaming continues. THROUGH THE TENSION THROUGH THE TENSION! THIS IS ONLY A DISTRACTION! I knew once I heard this song, I was never going to be a casual listener of this band. They're incapable of making songs that are casual listens. Brilliant song!


3. Even When I'm Not With You

I will say, I was not a huge fan of this song when it first came out. It was the third and final single released prior to the rest of the album. This is the only song that I don't feel fits on the album as well, but at the same time, I understand it. It's slow and kind of has a buildup, though that buildup never really follows through for me. The lyricism though, that's what makes this song for me. What a beautiful way to talk about someone you love, especially the last line, "what is love besides two souls trying to heal each other?". Absolutely poetic and beautiful, and I see it as a true reflection of finally falling in love. For those who don't know, Vic met his wife Danielle when she was an extra in the King For A Day music video back in 2012, and they've been dating ever since! How cute is that? They just got married a year or so ago, and are expecting a baby any day now. This song means a lot more to me because I know who's he's talking about in these lyrics, but all that aside, it wasn't my favorite. Far from a bad song though, not at all bad, just not one I'd put at the top.


4. Emergency Contact

I LOVE THIS SONG! This is the love song I needed, none of that "ohhhh I'm so in looooove with youuu" crap, this is just perfect. I can't get the idea of an emergency contact out of my head now. "Just want you to be my emergency contact, you're my angel" genuinely sent me into a spiral. Sonically, it's a pretty classic PTV track, but nowhere near boring if that makes sense. It has the guitars that the band nails on the head everytime, heavy but kind of in the background. I much prefer the songs where the guitars are front and center, but I also understand that the song is supposed to be more focused on the lyrics and less on the execution, although I still think the execution is awesome and fits the track well. Also a great choice to release as a single, I think it would've just gotten swallowed in the album if it hadn't already been released.


5. Flawless Execution

Spooky guitar and vocals right off the bat and it's pretty good. "Blink, and I'll explode, I'm just the type." Great line to open with, I think it reflects exactly what the song is about (or how I interpreted it), this kind of apologetic self deprication. "Shame, I'm just a tiny parasite, but I will eat you up alive". Overall though, I think the chorus carries the song the most. (And the guitars at 2:05 do too, but that's such a small part of the song. They float from ear to ear though and I just LOVE that.) The chorus is very pleasing to the ears and brings the song a little more life, but the way that the vocals are delivered throughout the whole song is great. Vic has really mastered his own voice and that brings such another layer of depth to each song. Another great guitar moment is at 2:42 when they just deescalate and then screech, pushing right back into Vic's vocals, which builds up into the guitars dropping again. It's wonderful cycle between focus on the instruments and Vic's singing. There's small moments like the ones I mentioned that remind you of the power of the intruments, and not just for keeping rhythm and building the song.


6. The Jaws Of Life

I am very very torn about this song. The first 25 seconds are PERFECT, but then the vocals come in, and to me they just sound cheesy. I don't know, but aside from the chorus, I don't think the lyrics were delivered well. But then the chorus makes up for the lack of something interesting in the first verse. Everything after "I can't decide" is flawless, all through the chorus I'm just transcending, you know? God, the GUITARS AHHHHHH! I can't get over the der ner ner ner nEER NER NEerrr of the guitar in the beginning and chorus. That's honestly my favorite part of this song. This probably would be in my top 3 if not for verse 1 & 2. Great title track, it really conveys the meaning behind The Jaws of Life. And also the last 23 seconds are back to straight perfection. Do you see why I'm conflicted? Ugh. I want this song to be at the top so badly, but the delivery of the verses ruin it for me. Just feels tacky. But that chorus will be on repeat in my head until the day I die, it's so POWERFUL. (Edit: I'm coming back to this on July 10th to say that this ended up becoming my second favorite song from the album, I don't know why it threw me off so much in the beginning)


7. Damn The Man, Save The Empire

The intro is an immediate smile, so they get automatic brownie points for that. "Take 4679, part two, hour eight!" Iconic. Jaime is so real for that. I also just looked at the writing and production credits, and Mike was listed on both... That broke my heart a little. For those of you who don't know, Mike is Vic's brother, and this is the first PTV album without him drumming. It's cool that he was still involved though, he left the band in 2017 after some allegations came out :(. Anyways, this song reminds me a lot of their old stuff, like A Flair For the Dramatic/Selfish Machines. It was nice to have that bit of nostalgia in there too. Lyrically, I think it's an awesome direction. I understand it is as someone portraying themself in a certain light, and people sucking up to that. "Tell me what I want, but only when I want, tell me what I want to hear". I feel as though it's mocking the people who only tell someone famous what THEY think that person wants to hear, which is such an interesting direction. Also, the title is dope. For me overall though, it's pretty mediocre.


8. Resilience

Thought process: Oh cool, Dazed and Confused! TWANGY ACOUSTIC YES. Marvel reference? Okay, who is this song about? "Jealous of my resilience"? Cool lyrics. Powerful chorus. "Been running into spider webs at night" THAT IS GENIUS. More nice guitar stuff. Vic's voice in this song is kind of haunting and it just works SO well, he sounds so good with emotion and sadness in his delivery. Like I mentioned, he's really got his range on lock and has perfected it entirely for this album. I really think they could've brought in the drums softly in the beginning and made that a more prominent point, but the rest of the song carries well with drums. I like how it flows with the guitar, it's seamless. At 1:14 the guitar in the background does this cool whammy bar sounding thing, but it's only for a few seconds and it adds SO MUCH! Wish they would've added more of that, it brought a lot of character. Verse 2 and the prechorus are so well constructed lyrically! Vic & his team outdid himself on the writing aspect of this album.


9. Irrational Fears- Interlude

Are we on an airplane?


10. Shared Trauma

WOW. This song once again doesn't have a ton going on with the backing track, and I think it's because it's so lyric central. I never understood that divide & balance until I heard this album. Songs can be musically charged or lyrically charged or both and still be just as good as the other. "'Cause we share trauma and as we share trauma, it takes it to break it, we share trauma and nothing is gonna erase it, so face it, we share this". Beautiful. Other than the words, I don't have many thoughts on this song.


11. So Far So Fake

The bridge is the part that stands out the most in this song by FAR, and then the progression into the post-bridge guitar at 2:36 is IMPECCABLE. The guitar over the bridge is so cool too, sometimes it doens't work in songs to play the instruments in the same way the lyrics are being sung, but it adds to much to this song. "Now there's a fire in the speakers and blood on the master tapes", I don't know what this is supposed to mean but man, it sounds cool! The fade out at the end of the song works so well too. I know I'm going to be having some existential crisis drives to this song. The little electonic break at 1:23 is interesting too, I don't love it but don't hate it either. Here's the cool thing about it though: at the beginning of verse 2, you can kind of hear it, but it just sounds like a bass line. Then, once you hit the "so what?" lyric and it becomes more electronic, but really it's a flawless transition and works well in the background. I still don't particularly like that two second break of just that sound though. But somehow it still works? I don't know, I can't decide if I like it or not. Everything after 2:35 is just perfection, the GUITARS!!! Honestly, the more I've listened to this track, the more I fall in love with it. Might be one of my favorites!


12. 12 Fractures (ft. Chloe Moriondo)

"There were shortcuts into heaven through your eyes"SHUT UP. SHUT UP. That might be my only takeaway from this song, oh my GOD. Just kidding. My hopes were definitely higher for this song since it's the only feature on the album, and I think it met my expectations! Obviously the lyrics were a big part of my love for this song. I love music that's able to be interpreted in a way that is personal to you, yet so specific to the artist, you know? "Now I miss the pain sometimes in this so-called life", the line hits deep. Sometimes, at least in my expereicne, the pain brings you more feeling than the bliss does. Sometimes I miss feeling so deeply in the times I was sad or unhappy, the high moments are more just waiting for the low ones to inevitably happen. I also love the connection from verse 1 where Vic sings "I fantasize about those nights you held me down, and sewed your lips to mine" and then again in the last two lines of the song, "You wash me off, then spit me out, once I lost taste inside your mouth". Interesting correlation. One sided love? Is that what caused the pain? Too much passion that didn't last? Who knows, but there's an incredible amount of pain in this, and I think Chloe's parts really do transform the song. Her voice brings a kind of feminine perspective to such a specific story, it really makes it feel two sided. Two heartbroken people just feeling. It feels like a bit of an ode to PTV's old music, specifically a lot of Collide With The Sky, where you're just feeling the anger and heartbreak protrayed so strongly. This song has a tinge of that, but more mature. Older and more exhausted sadness. I think it was a nice way to end the album, a familiar place to be in PTV's music.


Closing Thoughts

As I was writing these, I kind of realized that I psychoanalyzed them too deeply, and sometimes overcriticizing a song can make it lose it's magic & flow. But I guess that's what I signed up for, right? Overall, this album couldn't have been a better return to their career. Each song brings it's own story to the table and overflows with emotion and legitmacy that's sometimes uncommon in modern day music. I loved this album, really truly. I think it sounds better listened to all at once, rather than broken up into pieces like I did as I was reviewing. But still, it remained interesting yet consistent. A wonderful album to give to the world!


Rankings:

1. Pass The Nirvana

2. So Far So Fake

3. Death of an Executioner

4. Emergency Contact

5. Resilience

6. The Jaws of Life

7. Flawless Execution

8. Damn the Man, Save the Empire

9. 12 Fractures (ft. Chloe Moriondo)

10. Even When I'm Not With You

11. Shared Trauma

12. Irrational Fears (Interlude)


Score:


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