The Jaws of Life

rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Death of an Executioner
02. Pass the Nirvana
03. Even When I'm Not With You
04. Emergency Contact
05. Flawless Execution
06. The Jaws of Life
07. Damn The Man, Save The Empire
08. Resilience
09. Irrational Fears (Interlude)
10. Shared Trauma
11. So Far So Fake
12. Fractures

San Diego's PIERCE THE VEIL are known for masterfully blending post-hardcore punk and prog. Now on their fifth studio album, "The Jaws of Life", the band is showing more ambition and experimentation than ever before. There was plenty anticipation behind this new album, since it marked the outfit's first proper full-length in nearly seven years. While the group's 2016 release, "Misadventures", was characterized by large dynamic shifts, heavy guitars and strong melodies, "The Jaws of Life" goes one step further by fleshing out songs into cinematic stories that draw the listener in from start to finish.

"The Jaws of Life" kicks off with "Death of an Executioner", which doesn't sound nearly as brutal as the song title suggests. The song has an almost '80s-dance flair, with bouncy rhythms and echoing vocals. "Pass the Nirvana" follows, a '90s tribute that does sound a touch like Nirvana, at least until the rap-rock vocals and screams kick in.

Next is "Even When I'm Not With You", a short, alt-pop track that is much more mainstream sounding than most of the band's previous material. To produce "The Jaws of Life", the band tapped MUTEMATH frontman Paul Meany, known for his work with alt-pop bands such as TWENTY ONE PILOTS, which explains the hint of pop on select tracks, such as this one. "Emergency Contact" is another rager, with huge guitars, deep bass lines and a melodic chorus that sounds almost like it's taken from the early-2000's pop-punk playbook. The record takes a softer turn on "Flawless Execution", with swelling guitars and a more laid-back approach. The only issue here is that Fuentes's vocals sound a tad buried in the chorus mix. The album's title track, their WEEZER moment, follows with crunchy vocals, catchy melodies and even a dash of power pop highlights the diversity and breadth of PIERCE THE VEIL's growing catalog.

"The Jaws of Life" sets PIERCE THE VEIL up to continue their reign as one of the most buzzed-about bands in post-hardcore, but also shows they aren't afraid to dip their toes into new sounds and styles. Five albums in, PIERCE THE VEIL are still at the beginning of their journey and discovery as a band.

Author: Anne Erickson
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