Review Summary: Don't think you're more than this, or above all this, with your "blah blah blah" and all your friends...
When I talk about bands like My Chemical Romance, The Used, and AFI (recent stuff, post-Sing the Sorrow
), it's difficult to explain (or even articulate) their appeal to non-fans, despite the fact that--and let me be very clear about this--they're bands I like a lot. The specific aspect that gives pause is that dramatic performers that catch fire with young crowds face an instinctive apprehension from listeners who consider themselves seasoned or more discerning--a race to sniff out the bullshit and then post some snark about it.
When it came down to it, I could smell the very same bullshit back then. I saw grown men in makeup on the MTV or Fuse, adored by a crowd of neckbeards and stupid haircuts. Only, for some reason, it didn't bother me. I figured out that the false-punk ethos was sorta my bag a long time ago-ever since I began to fashion myself rather fly for a white guy. Whatever intrinsic contradictions I picked up on didn't really factor into what made my foot tap back in high school, but I would still never like buy a T-shirt with one of these bands on it or put their lyrics in my AIM profile, for fear that I'd end up having to bs a defense for their theatrics. It was just easier not to bother.
Not much has changed in the last seven or eight years. Normal sheep have all shaved their pelts and gotten jobs. They go to work and pay taxes. The black sheep have started to shave their heads unevenly and mixing electronic elements into what they're calling "post-hardcore," but for the most part, they're basically still just hanging out, going to shows, listening to jams. And then there's me, standing there in the middle of it all, with Collide With the Sky
in my headphones, wondering ‘am I too old to dig this?'
The answer is probably yes, but fuck it if that matters. I still like most of the stuff that I would have been into ten years ago, only now I really can't be bothered to try and talk about why (so good luck with this review, jackasses!).
When MCR, The Used, and AFI found their greatest commercial successes, they took easily-digestible melodic punk rock, cleaned up the production, and set the songs to horror movies. "Violent, Dangerous Pop" is how MCR framed their music in an effort to avoid being mislabeled "emo," and that's the umbrella that I think works best here.
What I like about Pierce the Veil is that they do the same thing, only they do it with a high-pitched vocalist, and instead of using just punk rock, they draw from a mix of 'sing-scream' subgenres. Selfish Machines
, their excellent sophomore offering, basically sounded like Coheed and Carlos Santana got together to cover their favorite tracks from Three Cheers…
, Sing the Sorrow
, and In Love and Death
, and then sped up whatever they recorded 150%. And even though that sounds like it would be the worst thing in the world, it worked.
Collide with the Sky
basically repeats the formula (thank god), so if you liked that album you should be pleased. Even the way starry opener "May These Noises Startle You" feeds right into "Hell Above" is reminiscent of that awesome "Southern Constellations"-into-"The Boy Who Could Fly" transition.
Most of the songs are, at their cores simple-proficient enough guitarwork and drumming, technical at times but never gratuitous, always leaving a nice beat to accompany the loathsome teenage suicide-valentine's-day-card poetry that makes each track such a fucking pleasure. Some songs add extra frills like strings or keys ("Stained Glass Eyes and Colorful Tears" integrates these nicely, right from the start, for example), but PTV's strengths have always come from pouring on the layers of vocals and guitars stuck together in a chaotic sonic jigsaw puzzle ("One Hundred Sleepless Nights" and the aforementioned "Hell Above").
The guest work on the album is also awesome. Jason Butler's (letlive.) contribution to "Tangled in the Great Escape" is highly dynamic (not that that's a surprise, though), and pairing it with Vic's vocals makes for a pretty interesting and welcome change (maybe the best track on the album). Perhaps a more surprising success, however, is the fact that "King for a Day," which features Kellen Quinn (Sleeping with Sirens… yes THAT guy and Vic on the same song) works as well.
If you've never looked into Pierce the Veil, Collide with the Sky
is the gift you never really wanted, but after living with it for a while, it'll become indispensable. It's an electric shaver. If you liked their previous stuff, be ready for more.