ALBUM REVIEW: Pierce the Veil – The Jaws of Life

Thanks to TikTok trends resurrecting decade-old (and older) pop-punk and emo hits and spreading them like wildfire to a new surge of listeners, there has been a nostalgic Noughties emo revival. Between the majorly sentimental lineup of the When We Were Young Fest and bands like My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Thursday, Blink-182, Sunny Day Real Estate, and others, snapping out of hiatus and flooding stages once again, it should come as no surprise that Pierce the Veil is rejoining the ranks.


Pierce the Veil stepped away from the stage after their 2016 album Misadventures. However, within the past year, the band’s 2012 platinum hit “King for a Day (ft. Kellin Quinn)” coursed its way through TikTok’s veins. The song re-entered Billboard’s Hard Rock Streaming charts and shot up to No.1, which surely secured the group’s receptivity to a younger wave of fans and further pushed the band to continue their efforts. Without missing a beat, and doing a tightrope walk of balancing their original tone fans loved with refreshed content, Pierce the Veil marks a valiant return with their fifth album, The Jaws of Life.

Composed of thoughts and feelings following the conclusion of touring in support of Misadventures, drummer Mike Fuentes stepping down, and the chaos of the pandemic, the album has a steady theme of relatable yet personal and internal struggles, finding and keeping love, and frustration. The three remaining band members took to renting a spot in the French Quarter in New Orleans where they wandered the streets and soaked up the ambient noise to inject into the album. Long-time friend Brad Hargreaves of Third Eye Blind stepped in to lay down drum tracks, and multi-instrumentalist and frontman Paul Meany of Mutemath was hired in to produce the album.

On the first day of September 2022, the beacon was lit for the start of the new album cycle. ‘Pass the Nirvana’, which if the title wasn’t already a hint, gives a massive nod to 90’s grunge with heavy distortion, punchy basslines, and unclean vocals. Since its release, the track has already garnished 18 million streams.


Two months later was the release of ‘Emergency Contact’. More subdued than the first single, it echoes the content the “Elder Emo’s” lived for as teens; two wounded people coming together to do their best to forge a happily ever after while living in a messed up world. “I sleep on the couch while you’re passed out in the back/ Just want you to be my emergency contact”.


The final single, ‘Even When I Am Not With You’, comes one month prior to the album release. Gritty and overdriven guitar with a slower tempo encapsulates a syrupy, love-stricken slow dance of devotion.


Switching gears and kicking off the album, ‘Death of an Executioner’ stands out from the pack. From the initial build up to the soaring vocals frontman Vic Fuentes is known for, the track stitches in tension with nuances of bongo drums and synths to add depth and diversity. “I hold my breath and drive/ Staring at the sky/ Luminous and bright/ Running out of time” builds up to the eruption of the chorus.

With its reference to seasonal depression and other internal struggles, title track ‘The Jaws of Life’ doesn’t mince words. “Life can try to sink its teeth into you,” Fuentes says. “Sometimes we feel this grip of life just holding us. ‘The Jaws of Life’ is about the journey to find your way out of that.” Juxtaposed between an upbeat track, the opening lyrics “Maybe I should go and buy a gun/ Point it at the mirror, make me run” spin a self-deprecating tone.


‘Shared Trauma’ is marinated in a subtle lo-fi influence as the lyrics paint a picture of those that try to break free from tragedy and face their trauma, and accept that it could haunt them still in some capacity forever. Later in the track, a buzzy trap beat rounds out the slower tempo of the track. It’s an interesting marriage of genres, but it works and adds interest and instrumental satisfaction to the overall album.

Following ‘Shared Trauma’, ‘So Far So Fake’ opens with a gratifying math-rock, layered guitar work before the chorus amps up the song. The song expresses the energy it takes to appear content, when in reality, withdrawing from everyone would be more appealing. Much like a wave, the chorus fades, and the quieter tone and riff of the guitars pick back up in the next verse right before the swell of the chorus again. The song’s rise and fall could mimic the internal tug-of-war struggles of depression.


The Jaws of Life, despite seeing so much time pass between it and its predecessor, follows Misadventures with seamless ease and growth. “We’ve been lucky that the band has remained so strong with our fans,” Fuentes says. “Everything has stayed strong. Things are bigger than ever, which is just mind-blowing to me. We’re so thankful.”


Buy the album here:


8 / 10