Review: Pierce the Veil – Misadventures

PTV_0490_hi

Four years is a long time to wait – just ask fans of San Diego post-hardcore act Pierce the Veil. The band made the leap in 2012 with the release of their highly lauded album Collide with the Sky, rising from the scene quagmire to become one of the biggest rock bands around. High profile tours and festival placements kept the band on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but as the days continued to tick past with no sight of a new record, it was hard not to wonder if Pierce the Veil had reached their peak.

You can buy Misadventures on iTunes.

You can buy Misadventures on iTunes.

Rumors of Vic Fuentes’ writer’s block did little to quell the concern – and turned out to be partly true. The singer would eventually become fed up with the four studio walls that encapsulated his creativity, hitting the road with the band last year on a journey that would finally spark inspiration; resulting in one of the most unexpected releases you’ll hear this year.

Misadventures is good. It’s really good, actually. But on the first few listens, it’s hard to pinpoint why. For a band that has followed a particular sonic thread through the course of its career, Misadventures is an experiment of the highest order. This album is still very much Pierce the Veil, but it’s a Pierce the Veil you’ve never heard, and didn’t even know you wanted to hear.

The band once again worked with producer Dan Korneff, but requested that he push them in ways that they’d never explored in the past. It’s not often for a band of this stature to mess with a working formula and even less often for it to happen when working with a familiar face. Nevertheless, Misadventures is littered with surprising twists and turns.

I’ve long championed the band for being one of the most technically sound acts in the scene. Collide with the Sky proved the band to be cut from another cloth as they perfected their own signature polished post-hardcore crunch. On Misadventures, Pierce the Veil seeks to perfect everyone else’s sound, too.

Take “Floral & Fading” – easily the slowest and least chaotic song the band has ever written, the track captures the slowed-down, ballad-y pop vibe that All Time Low have been chasing for years, all the way down to the precisely placed “Woah-oh oh’s.” “Bedless” is a deep cut that exhibits a Circa Survive feel with it’s sharp opening notes and jerky pace, while “Sambuka” is an up-tempo punk number.

If it’s not clear already, be warned: early listens to Misadventures are likely to result in whiplash for the uninitiated.

“Today I Saw the Whole World” is one of the most aggressive songs the band has ever written, with frenzied guitar riffs pulled straight from the Saosin playbook. Mike Fuentes has never sounded better behind the kit, driving the track forward at a manic pace with several unruly fills thrown in for good measure.

Once the clamor comes to a close, the album immediately shifts gears once more, leading into the 80s inspired “Gold Medal Ribbon”, one of the most remarkably pleasing track on the album. Complete with an opening guitar solo and starfall keys for good measure, you’re already lost in the sound by the time Vic enters at the one-minute mark with the pleading opening lines of,  “Are you up there? Just give me a signal, I’m reaching you now / Cuz I remember the sound of your voice but I don’t remember what we talked about”.

For all of the experimenting that will define the early chatter surrounding Misadventures, it should be noted that the band also takes ample time to refine and upgrade the Pierce the Veil sound you’ve come to love. Album opener “Dive In” rips from start to finish, highlighted by Tony Perry’s stellar riffing, Jaime Preciado’s thumping bassline and some well-placed programming elements that round out the track. Fuentes tears out of the gate with the ruthless opening lines of, “Dive in, take a breath / Blow the smoke through the hole in my chest”. When the track kicks into high gear “Hell Above”-style around the 1:30 mark, it’s a subtle reminder that this actually is a Pierce the Veil album after all.

Despite the band’s success in recent years, Fuentes’ status as one of the best lyricists around has remained one of the scene’s best-kept secrets. The quirks of Misadventures offer Vic the opportunity to take his knack for turn of phrase to another level, even while overdramatic on “Today I Saw the Whole World”: “While you stood over the pavement I was biting the curb / Sick entertainment, but I bet it feels good (coming down) / Can’t bear to wash out the wasted time / Between your lips and mine”.

Yet just like the sonic journey of Misadventures, the album is a thematic carousel as well, touching on a number of topics well outside of the usual breakup banter. “Circles” tells the story of a couple fleeing for their lives during the 2015 Paris attacks, as Vic sings, “Paper hearts turned to ash begin to fly over our heads / I begin screaming while the exit signs read ‘Heaven’s waiting’”. On album closer “Song for Isabelle”, Fuentes ponders the dark pain and weight that can accompany us once our childhood vanishes.

It’s a testament to the band’s talents that Misadventures doesn’t come off as scatterbrained or over-reaching, even in its most peculiar moments. Instead, the album reads as a collection of journal entries, documenting the band’s long road over the past four years, varying from page to page in both sound and lyric. Which chapters you choose to save to your playlist is likely to vary based on taste, but there’s a little something here for everyone.

Still, perhaps the most exciting thing about Misadventures is the endless roads that now lay before a band no longer confined to their own box. It’s clear that Pierce the Veil has the chops to carry on in any number of sonic directions, continually expanding their massive audience. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another four years to find out what comes next.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: