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The second album by the US band Pierce the Veil starts with a short drum roll into an experimental riff which sets the tone for the rest of the album. I first heard of this band when they were announce as the support for A Day to Remember's UK tour and listened to their song "Caraphernelia" on youtube, but I'll get to that later. The band are hard to group under a certain genre. They take elements from metal, experimental rock and punk and throw it all into one.
Opener "Besitos" is a great example of their very unique style. It's a very unique song. The vocals are probably what will strike you first with lead singer's (Vic Fuentes) voice being very, very high. While it may seem a bit odd at first, you can't judge a band by the deepness of a singer's voice. I think he has a very good voice in all honesty, I wasn't too keen on first but it definitely grew on me. "Besitos" (meaning "littles kisses" in Spanish) is pretty mental. It has a pretty obvious structure unlike quite a lot of the rest of the album, but still seems strange. I mean strange in the best of ways. It's very catchy. The band tend to use a lot of different effects especially with overlaying vocals, including one line panned to one side with the other to the other, etc, which very noticeable in the spoken part of the bridge. While the vocals are where this band excels, the music too is top notch, with some great guitar riffs. This song is also very dark somehow, the mixture of the lyrics about being afraid of being murdered with the experimental riffs don't exactly give off a bright feel.
"Southern Constellations" serves basically as a relaxed into into the hectic "The Boy Who Could Fly" which is the fastest song on the album. Once again, very complex guitar and a very catchy chorus. The band aren't catchy in the traditional sense, but the choruses are just very big and stand so obviously out (even though not all the songs feature obvious choruses.) Some more vocal effects in the second verse before the normal vocals come back in full force, sounding very emotional. It changes up a bit during the bridge (when I saw them play this live, at this point the lead singer threw his guitar right across the stage and a roadie easily caught it, before jumping into the crowd, such a great sight!) and the drums come back in, played by lead singer's brother, Mike Fuentes with what sounds like obvious double bass pedal use, but apparently it's played with a single foot (interesting technical trivia!)
The highlight of the album however, is "Caraphernelia" featuring A Day to Remember's Jeremy McKinnon who provides the screaming. Starting with a fast beat and some rather powerful vocals, the song slows down for the pre chorus where Jeremy's trademark deep screaming contrasts with Vic's high clean vocals. The chorus is ridiculously catchy. I mean ridiculously. It makes this song stand out above all of the rest - as well as the acoustic part of the bridge. If you want to try this band out, listen to this song first.
Next two songs, "Fast Times at Clairemont High" and "The New National Anthem" are the weakest tracks and without these this album would easily get 5* - but I really can't find any defense for these two. Abandoning the unique-ness from earlier, these songs sound overly pop-rocky. The former's chorus really grates on me, and nothing else really stands out, missing the technicalities from earlier - while the latter really plays on the pop-rock aspect, with strangely annoying guitar riffs and once again, a very annoying chorus. However, poppy "Bulletproof Love" proves that the band CAN write a good love song! It's catchy, but still slightly dark. The band's lyrics are also pretty unique, usually dark, but not like many other band's lyrics that I've heard. They use a lot of odd imagery and dark themes to normal relationship issues, for example "I wanna hold your hand so tight, I'm gonna break my wrist, and when the vultures sing tonight, I'm gonna join right in." Perhaps not the best example, but I do enjoy enjoy their odd lyrics. The "(no!) don't you try to blame this on me" in the bridge seems to somehow make this song. It really shows of Vic's vocals. It's one of those parts in a song that has some strange sort of feel that makes you want to keep playing that one part over and over again. Just me? Okay.
"Stay Away From My Friends" starts with keyboard and just vocals - with a light drumbeat joining in shortly after. One of the highlights on the album in the technical sense, an untraditional slow song (yeah, that dark feel again.) When the second verse starts it sounds like the chorus, which gives a really weird effect, it isn't the chorus obviously, but the chorus doesn't seem to stand out over the verses somehow. I've never really felt attached to this song but I can understand the hype for it.
Now it gets heavier again. "I Don't Care if You're Contagious", once again, a weirdly dark love song starts in a powerful way. The weirdly dark love song thing is backed up by the chorus's lyrics, "I don't care if you're sick, I don't care if you're contagious, I'd kiss you even if you were dead." I think throwing in words like "contagious" and "dead" (which ONLY have dark connotations) next to the word "kiss" is what the band do. They aren't a traditional rock band, and I think you've all got that by now, right? "Disasterology" is one of my favourites from the album and I really love the "ooooh"s in the verses and the fast chorus (with some awesome drum stuff going on), with a distorted pre-chorus before hand and an epic bridge with screaming provided by bassist Jaime Preciado.
And then there's autotune. The intro to "Million Dollar Houses (The Painter)" is a very confusing moment. Then suddenly an amazing catchy chorus kicks in and shows off where the band really excels. I understand that a lot of people won't like this song mostly due to the autotune in the verses and the weird effects in the second verse but give it a chance. It grows on you. It really does. I think this is one of the highlights on the album, showing the band aren't afraid to try different things out.
So the album ends with "The Sky Under The Sea" that builds up into a fast verse and once again shows something that the band haven't done much on this album, kept the same tempo verse/chorus. If you've read this far in the review I really think you should give one of the songs a try. I think this is a band you either get or you just don't. People may call them emo, but I really can't see that myself. They're more into the heavier rock side but have high pitched vocals. Yeah, the songs are dark, but not necessarily in a "depressing" way, just in a different way. All in all, I think this album is very unique, very weird and basically, very, very good.