“Post-hardcore”, Wikipedia told me. But as soon as the introductory veil of ambient noise is pierced by the distorted voice of singer Vic Fuentes (geddit?), my gut knew what this really meant.
This was an uptempo cousin of Bullet For My Valentine, a more glamorous Billy Talent, a punk-styled Linkin Park, Bring Me The Horizon with… well, it sounded a lot like BMTH. This wall of heavy riffs and soaring choruses (not too much more hardcore than Good Charlotte) was a zombie, a fleshly embodiment of a style long presumed dead: Emo.
My god, this is what kids still listen to? My god, it was fun, wasn’t it. The preposterously self-indulgent lyrics are seductively adolescent: “I’m tired of begging for the things that I want” (although, whatever happened to “I want never gets”?). The riffs are catchy, the drums are punchy, the electronic snippets à la Skrillex are flashy, the screams and growls are just aggressive enough to be cathartic, the songs are just poppy enough to be both credible and accessible, and there’s even the odd surprisingly excellent breakout into flamenco guitar.
It’s a very well-made fairground of fun, cheesy nostalgia (with heavy breakdowns) that reminds you of a time when everything felt raw and momentous, when you swore you’d never become like one of those shitty soulless adults or one of your shitty cheating ex-partners. It’s a time when you still knew that school was literally hell and parents were the fucking worst with their constant emotional torture.Except, of course, it’s a time when hypothetical you was insanely, irritatingly immature. And so is Collide With The Sky.
In all fairness to the band, they probably worked very hard to make this album. And they are undoubtedly good musicians. I’d take it over endless house-y chart pop any day. In their genre, they are definitely one of the better acts out there. But halfway through the album, the realisation of over-indulgence overtakes the listener: The fairground has too many flashing lights, the candy floss wants to make you throw up. Or, in the case of Pierce The Veil’s album, the “soaring” melodies become momentously tedious tropes that, instead of invoking profound emotion, make you want to throw the speakers across the room to stop their pathetic attempts at cheap emotional manipulation.
The cringe worthy screams of “LET’S GOOO” etc at the start of many songs become ever more grating. Most of all, the lyrics rapidly descend into new lows: “I let you down, and I started to run” sounds like straight out of a song from any of the bands mentioned above.
Stripped of the nice flashy production and arrangement tricks, the veil over Collide With The Sky drops and lays it bare for what it is: A tired, trope-y resurrection of a genre zombie that should’ve been left dead: Some crafts die in the name of art.
Can we then, as the human race, move on from emo once and for all? Thank you. As for the kids: Let them rebell to Nirvana.