Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
Pierce The Veil
Written by: TL on 23/05/2016 21:43:21
The San Diego quartet Pierce The Veil is back with a fourth album for the catalogue called "Misadventures". It comes after a couple of postponements that delayed its release from the intended time last year. Whether you have followed the band or have yet to check them out, the skinny on this new album is that the band develops their trademark mixture of pop-punk and post-hardcore merely by nuances, not straying too far from the characteristics fans will know from the previous records.
The group's music is the product of growing up with one leg in a skate punk environment and the other in the dramatic emo/post-hardcore scene of the Myspace years, plus being freakishly good at playing guitar. You could compare Pierce The Veil to Alesana, except with the latter's young adult fiction lyrics subtracted and the black clothing substituted for something more colourful and suited for the beach weather of Californian summer. With blazing speed and a bittersweet feeling to boot, listening feels like the sonic equivalent to chugging a large, super-sugary and super-caffeinated energy drink.
As per usual, it is near impossible to listen to Pierce The Veil and feel bored, partly because the tempo is high, but also because there is constantly a new layer or fill in the process of being grafted on the preceding guitar part, and similarly a choir or screamed vocal responding to whatever line frontman Vic Fuentes is presently crooning. You get the feeling that you could kidnap these guys on any given day, put bags over their heads and then put them on a stage completely unprepared and they'd still manage to gush out entertaining, twisting music at a frantic pace. A song like the single "Texas Is Forever" is symptomatic of their style, racing ahead at breakneck pace before dropping to the sort of bouncy chorus that can get crowds of colourful alternative youngsters dancing, while gleefully singing along: "Your tears, they fall on my tongue and our lips are letting go. We lay on the side of the rooooaaaad!".
It's not all roses, however, because Pierce The Veil's limitations also become increasingly apparent with each subsequent release. Despite Vic Fuentes being an expert guitarist and singer, he has one of the narrowest and squeakiest voices in the music scene, which figures as one reason the band's soundscape can get to feeling a bit monotonous across an album, even despite all of its richly embedded details. Furthermore, the screams on the record have little power and feel more like relics of a time and a style that Pierce The Veil have grown from, than like anything that really fits the weight or feel of the music at any point. They're like obsolete staples of the genre which at this point don't really add anything, also because Pierce The Veil never really take the time to allow for the emotional depth on which some screaming could make sense. They're not really either a heavy band or one to wallow in anguish like that.
And that brings us to another point, because the thing about Pierce The Veil is that they have established themselves as highly professional entertainers in the live circuit, partly because ever since their second album, they've been building songs on structures and tempos that fit that description; that they were entertaining. And this has perpetually made their new efforts pale somewhat when reflected in the more serious, soulful and measured atmospheres of their debut album.
However, if there's one truly encouraging facet of "Misadventures" - apart from the sheer ear-tickling intricacy of tunes like "Circles", "The Divine Zero" or "Phantom Power And Ludicrous Speed" - it is that it occasionally feels like Pierce The Veil are leaning back a bit towards that tone of old. After two albums of sounding a bit fearful of their audiences' attention span and singing to them with manic excitement in their eyes and voices, Pierce The Veil sound a tiny bit more like there's space for some emotion in their music, and for some trust in the audience to take interest in it. The song structures that frequently build toward an obligatory breakdown-ish part admittedly feel like they frame things a bit crudely, and the mentioned feeling of monotony that comes from the similar type of energy exuded from all tracks, can make one's attention drift a bit towards the end of the album, though. But there are glimpses here, that maybe Pierce The Veil might be ready soon, to make a new album that doesn't sound like it is restrained by fears of scaring off their scores of adolescent fans. If that day comes, it will be an interesting day indeed, as these boys continue to sound like they have the potential for more.
Download: Texas Is Forever, Circles, Phantom Power And Ludicrous Speed, The Divine Zero
For The Fans Of: I The Mighty, Icarus The Owl, Alesana, Chiodos
Release date 13.05.2016