Senses Fail

Life Is Not A Waiting Room

Written by: TL on 29/10/2008 00:06:12

While I was never decisively against the last Senses Fail album "Still Searching", I did, quite opposite of PP, think that it was by far their weakest outing to date. Despite containing more than a handful of instantly catchy tracks and a generally more versatile songwriting, it simply never made as strong an impact as "Let It Enfold You", not to mention the legendary "From The Depths Of Dreams EP". Effectively I've taken it upon myself to review the band's new album "Life Is Not A Waiting Room", hoping to set the record straight on the state of Senses Fail at the moment.

Boy do I wish I hadn't. Quite frankly, "Life Is Not A Waiting Room" has me running screaming back to "Still Searching" within minutes. Opener "Fireworks At Dawn" actually has you hoping though, featuring the closest frontman Buddy Nielsen has ever come to singing well in its very first lines. The following "Lungs Like Gallows" starts off on a note that further excites you, displaying some of the hardest rockin' riffage the band has written to this day - Okay so the chorus is nothing to write home about, but it's not going to matter with the mosh this track can instigate anyway. On "Garden State" however, the records crashes and burns. Why? Because the band plays a song entirely without screaming, pulling into the spotlight their most appalling weakness - namely the fact that Buddy can't sing. Truth be told, he never could sing, but before the fact hasn't been as disruptive, hidden as it has been between screams and less than perfect production. Here however, his painfully nasal yelp that basically sounds like he's singing in a key that's hurting his vocal cords is left to fend for itself.

From here on out, it's hit but mostly miss for Senses Fail. "Family Tradition" boasts a pseudo-catchy chorus, but it's to little avail when Buddy's still staking the credibility of the song with his voice. It's comparable to listening to Wil Francis on Aiden's "Conviction", where his equally horrible performance had also been dragged to the front of the soundscape, and subsequently produced beyond recognition in a (failed) attempt to hide how poor it was. "Wolves At The Door" tries the same ripping Story Of The Year-ish punk rock intro as "Lungs Like Gallows" did, and again the screams are a welcome substitute for Buddy's 'clean' singing, and again the song falls flat on its face due to a lukewarm chorus. By now, I'm quite ready to bin this record and quit wasting my time, but for you dear reader, I persevere. Truth be told, redeeming qualities might be luring right around the corner!

"Hair Of The Dog" doesn't raise my spirits though. We're back to an all-clean song, complete with a lame chorus about one of Buddy's favourite subjects. Needing a drink. Now I'm a Dane, so I have all kinds of respect for a man who finds the solution to his problems at the bottom of a mug of beer or a bottle of Jack, but between earlier material and the handful of songs here that mention how Buddy likes drinks, I've about had enough. By this rate, he's going to be drunker than Lemmy Kilmister before reaching half his age, and that says a lot, considering that Lemmy is a man I can't think of without thinking the letters "JD" directly afterwards. Seeing as Buddy's shitty vocalwork doesn't really flatter his band as much as Lemmy's does his, I suggest he starts drinking water instead though.

Yes, I know I've drifted way off topic, but that's only because the rest of "Life Is Not A Waiting Room" simply doesn't offer me anything interesting to talk about. It's more of the same songs I've already described to you. It's weird to realise that the screams that are indeed present, have actually gotten thicker and better than we're used to, seeing as they still don't have the impact of the imperfect ones of old, maybe because they've been produced into safer and more marketable forms and limited to half the tracks - I'm guessing those are the ones that won't be released as singles... It's also ironic that one of the best songs (or least bad, depending on how you look at it) is the closing "Blackout", given how the final one and a half minute climax actually works, which is more than can be said for the rest of the album. Ironic because I actually like it for something else than recognising that this is when I get to take the album off. I'm even prepared to forgive Buddy for singing about drinks in this one instance.

Anyway "Too long; Didn't read" version: "Life Is Not A Waiting Room" has less screaming, worse choruses and more of Buddy sucking than any other Senses Fail album has had to date. There are no songs on it that I envision putting on again on my own accord, but a few are presented in the "Download" line, so that you can hear how boring the band sound now, even at the best of their moments. All that remains is to conclude that with this album, they have steepened the angle and increased the velocity of the descent, from emo-legends into shittyness, that they're currently on. Do yourself a favour and go listen to Escape The Fate instead.

Download: Lungs Like Gallows, Wolves At The Door, Blackout, Family Tradition
For The Fans Of: Story Of The Year, Hawthorne Heights, Aiden

Release Date 07.10.2008
Vagrant Records

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