Senses Fail


Written by: TL on 14/05/2013 19:05:46

To be brutally honest, Senses Fail have an uphill battle on their hands when it comes to being reviewed here, because the one person that has followed them closest over their career is me, and I haven't liked a thing they've done since their debut full length "Let It Enfold You". And that came out in 2004. Since then, the band's attempts to win wider appeal on following albums "Still Searching", "Life Is Not A Waiting Room" and "The Fire", has struck me as increasingly uncool and forgetable, as they increasingly exposed frontman Buddy Nielsen's shortcomings as a clean singer.

It makes a weird sort of sense then, that even though this year's opus "Renacer" marks a return towards the band's more traditional hardcore influences - following the trend contemporaries Funeral For A Friend and Silverstein have recently explored - even I can hear that Senses Fail sound much more convincing, even though they're pursuing a style I like even less. The mainstay of the music is now composed of heavily downtuned, bleak riffage that comes from the borderlands between hardcore and nu-metal, and forming the foundation for Nielsen's hardcore roars, this just sounds like a Senses Fail playing something that really comes from the heart.

That's the impression you get from the all-heavy opener "Renacer" at least, but there are however a couple of single-type melodies to get through before the album can move on. The first one is "Holy Mountain", which interrupts and otherwise menacing Warship-ish frenzy, with a melancholic melody that perfectly exhibits what I haven't liked about the band for almost ten years. "Mi Amor" fares a lot better then, mostly because the melody in both the guitar- and vocal lines sounds so Bayside-esque it's impossible to not be a little intrigued. One highlight is quickly followed by another, with "Closure/Rebirth" storming ahead with a Comeback Kid-ish lead riff, before suddenly crossing over into a dreamy, Deftones-esque melancholia, which after an interruption from some seriously low-tuned chuggery, carries the song off into a yearning storm of feedback.

We then head into a section which goes back and forth between the nice heaviness described earlier, and more of the dodgy attempts at catchy melodies that has haunted the band since Nielsen's voice dropped. "The Path" offers shamelessly Helmet-ish chugging and dissonance, and while it's not to my taste, it sort of works until Nielsen switches to grungy, distorted cleans. Over the next few songs, my attention has repeatedly gone wandering, while I wonder why the band clings to their failing attempts at big choruses, now that drummer Dan Trapp and guitarists Zack Roach and Matt Smith have dug out so much believable hardcore badassery for the record (bassist Jason Black didn't take part in the record because of obligations in his other band Hot Water Music).

The short of this is still however, that while "Renacer" is not a mostly annoying album, it hasn't improved to better than "mostly solid, yet still occasionally annoying", and gets especially tiring across middle tracks "Canine" and "Glass". "Ancient Tombs" return some of the similarity to Comeback Kid with further matured hardcore riffage, but apart from an interesting flirtation with post-rock on closer "Between The Mountains And The Sea", the remaining album strikes me as pretty standard metalcore-soup of the only occasionally remarkable variety. Letting the album and this review trail off then, I'll conclude that "Renacer" is a step closer to believability than Senses Fail have been for a long time, yet it's still an album that has too little to be remembered for - A fact that becomes abundantly clear for those that listen to it on Spotify, where the band's breakthrough EP "From The Depth Of Dreams" follows "Renacer" immediately and shows (without question I think) how far Senses Fail are from their best material.


Download: Mi Amor, Closure/Rebirth, Between The Mountains And The Sea
For The Fans Of: Silverstein, Funeral For A Friend, Evergreen Terrace, Comeback Kid

Release Date 26.03.2013
Staple Records

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