CD Review: Senses Fail / The Fire
Reviewed by: Diana Guay
You either love or hate Senses Fail, even the band recognizes this statement. And if you love them, no doubt you’ve had their previous album Life Is Not A Waiting Room on constant repeat in anticipation of their latest release The Fire. And if you’re a die-hard fan, you can sing along with absolute conviction to the latest single “New Year’s Eve” which has been up on YouTube since early October. The album, in its entirety, has been available to stream on the band’s MySpace page since October 18th, one day before they kicked off their “Out with the In Crowd” tour.
The Fire starts off with the title track in a truly explosive way. The term post-hardcore seems to get tossed around a lot with any band who uses any kind of growling in their vocals, a definition I don’t particularly agree with. Senses Fail is at least inspired by the genre – something that I can appreciate – and singer Buddy Nielsen has experimented with the angst-driving growls he’s known for, leaning the band more toward the post-hardcore movement. As a result of his focused hardcore-growl work, songs such as “Cowards” and “Lifeboats” were written.
In previous albums, the lyrical content focused on the detrimental emotions from childhood, loves lost and the pain and the archetypical struggle to keep going, whereas The Fire features songs that show surprising emotional growth. This is evidenced from the title track with lyrics like “It’s ok to feel lost / It just means you’re alive / I’ve told myself a thousand times from the ashes we will rise” and when he growls “I just want to feel alive”, you feel invigorated. In “Landslide” Buddy croons, “I’ve gotta start livin’ / Cause my life’s passing me by,” the harmonic sing-along chorus of which is reminiscent of “Family Tradition”.
Fear not, Buddy hasn’t gone too soft and hopeful with his lyrics. He seems to be still searching and fighting inner demons, as evidenced in “St. Anthony” where he sings “I fear for my life / That the current tonight / Is stronger than the will that I have to survive.” It’s no coincidence than St. Anthony is the saint of lost people and things, a metaphor in many Senses Fail albums, The Fire being no exception. “New Year’s Eve” is a clear favorite of mine as it perfectly blends Buddy’s tense emotive growls in the beginning, which then seamlessly releases into the lyrics “I’m clear as glass but I can’t seem to ever clean / the finger prints you left on me”. “Hold On” ends the album with a cleansing, hopeful feeling, with lyrics “I’m not giving up” and “I’ve got to somehow let this go / or I never will feel whole” bringing the album full-circle with a redemptive emotion reinforcing entrance title track song.
The Fire features singer Buddy Nielsen, guitarist Garrett Zablocki, drummer Dan Trapp, bassist Jason Black and new guitarist Zack Roach. This is an album with no fillers, yet songs like “Nero” and “Safe House” give a little breathing room from all the high-emotional content while still maintaining catchy choruses. Every song filled with intensity and heart, Senses Fail is consistent with musical styles in previous albums and any fan will definitely latch onto this album quickly. Musically, they don’t seem to have changed from previous albums but that’s ok because it rings true as a solid Senses Fail album as undeniably enjoyable.
The Fire has been available at shows, even though it’s release date is October 26th. There are also 300 copies of signed albums available at Newbury comics so grab yours before they run out!