Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pierce the Veil - Collide with the Sky

Pierce the Veil is one of the more recent huge sensations in the screamo genre. How do I know this? Well after hearing their name everywhere, I saw that one of my local venues posted a concert date for them months ahead of the actual show. The show sold-out within weeks of the day the tickets went on sale. That’s pretty ridiculous. The Black Dahlia Murder, a band MUCH bigger than Pierce the Veil and with more album sales scheduled a show at that same venue along with Nile and Skeletonwitch. That show never sold out. There has to be A LOT of hype for something like that to happen that fast. So, like a lot of other people I know, without listening to them first, I just passed Pierce the Veil off as just another mediocre screamo band that got lucky. Well, I was flipping through a list of random YouTube metal music videos (not quite sure why, I don’t even like music videos that much in the first place), I saw the music video for the song Hell Above by Pierce the Veil. It was one of those “what the hell” moments where I decided that it most likely wouldn’t kill me to watch it. After completing the video that included both the intro track from the album and Hell Above, I was speechless because it was everything that I WASN’T expecting…well, maybe not EVERYTHING.

The most surprising thing about these guys is that they’re not shitty! After reviewing countless of boring metalcore and screamo bands that all sound the same and bring the exact same thing to the table in the exact same fashion, this is a fucking relief. Don’t take that the wrong way and think I’m saying this is amazing, because I’m not; Pierce the Veil haven’t amazed me in the same way that The Word Alive did. There are certain turn-offs that I hear way too often in these types of bands, these turn-offs include auto-tuned singing, the constant use of simple breakdowns, a shitload of really corny-sounding synthesizers, shitty screams, and stuck-up attitudes. I would say shitty lyrics but I can’t because I almost never even pay attention to those. Anyways, Pierce the Veil has NONE of the turn-offs that I just listed. I need to ask: where the fuck did these guys come from?

Really good intro tracks that are more than 5 seconds long are hard to make interesting. It’s easy to say that this is one of the most energizing and coolest intro tracks that I’ve ever heard in my life. The amount of electronics used is minimal, which means it’s all dependent on the rest of the band to make it work. Probably what hit me first was how fucking tight the band is. Even in some of the better screamo bands, you can hear slight screw-ups in parts like this. The slightly random drum hits are lined-up EXACTLY (not an understatement) with the guitars and bass. And then right after they hit you with that, they slide into a lead guitar line backed with muted guitars and drums so indescribably energizing that it still sends chills down by back every time I hear it. It’s pretty ridiculous and surprising how a band surrounded by so many shitty groups managed to pull off something like this.

Hell Above is the song that’s going to be talked about the most in this review. So after the intro track seamlessly blends into Hell Above, the band goes on full-force while following the same guitar melody that was played in the intro. What come’s next is the highly-acclaimed vocalist’s high-pitched singing voice. I have to admit, I’m not usually one that enjoys this style of singing, but this guy is GOOD. He’s good not because of his vocal range or the sound of his voice, it’s the energy, power, and emotion that you can hear and feel in his singing. His voice moves with the music instead of sounding like it just got laid on top of it. Anyways, Hell Above can be described in one word: energy. This song has energy, which is something vital that the screamo and metalcore genres are severely lacking. Because of how tight the band is on literally everything, the already intense amount of energy is increased.

After the first chorus, the bassist gets to be the center of attention by playing a really catchy bass line before exploding into the next chorus. Oh yeah, I’m not one for choruses because bands sometimes like to put too much focus on them and forget about the rest of the song, but the chorus on Hell Above is something else. One last thing, when you listen to the song, how many breakdowns do you hear? If you listened to it, you heard ONE breakdown during the second half of the song. Again, this is an action that goes against the stupid trend and defies one of those major turn-offs I mentioned before.

The drummer is probably one of the most unique and experimental drummers in the screamo genre. The number of generic drum patterns that are played on this album is so small that you don’t even notice them unless you’re listening closely the whole time. As far as skill and technicality goes, the drummer is pretty average; there really isn’t any excessive skill or anything. It’s how perfectly he keeps time and how much he DOESN’T sound like any other drummer that makes him great. Also, what I always noticed was how when he made those seemingly random cymbal/snare hits, the rest of the band would emphasize those hits right along with him using so much precision that I notice it every time.

Everything seems to be going beyond perfectly. This album is on its way to getting a perfect score from me and getting all of my love…that is, until about the seventh song or so. After Props & Mayhem, everything starts to decline. The songs start to gradually decrease in energy, the melodies and choruses become less memorable, the music’s initial glow starts to grow dull, and everything starts to grow dull. By the time Stained Glass and Colorful Tears comes around, you feel ready to reach forward and press the button with the big square on it that says “Stop”. In other words, this album’s intense performance isn’t as lasting as the album itself is. On the first half of the album, each song is completely unique, every single track has its own little gem, and they each tell a different story. But the rest of the album, although not even close to bad or even mediocre, just blends together. So it’s the fact that this group of carbon-copies is being placed right next to a group of extreme individuals that makes the second half of the record grow so unbearable.

Pierce the Veil is not what a lot of people say they are. They aren’t shitty, they aren’t talentless, they aren’t generic, and they sure as hell aren’t bad musicians. In fact, this is one of the better screamo records I’ve heard in the past four years or so. The amount of energy in the first six songs is so immense that it even challenges the energy that Underoath has in their music. If you’ve turned down this band because of what you’ve heard about them, drop everything and look up the music video for Hell Above, because you might be surprised. But beyond the first half of the album, there isn’t really anything memorable for me to talk about, so I’m going to end the review here and give Collide with the Sky a score of 15/20.