Sound — 9
Post-hardcore is a very broad subgenre, especially nowadays you essentially need to take into consideration that metalcore and post-hardcore are not the same thing. Where does Senses Fail stand now? Well, two years ago they released their new album, "Renacer," which means "a new beginning" in Spanish. They went in the studio with a new producer, new record label, new mindset, and of course new guitarist, Matt Smith (also guitarist for Strike Anywhere), who also recorded the bass parts until they found someone to replace their old bassist. Whether you consider Senses Fail to still be post-hardcore or not, Renacer brought in some of the tastiest, and most memorable riffs, fast paced drumming, and hardcore-like vocals, while not abandoning the classic Senses Fail cleans. Since then, Dan Trapp, their drummer has left the band, and to replace him, Chris Hornbrook of Poison The Well is assigned the duties.
Once you give the full album a spin, it's clear that they have acquired a new drummer. From songs such as "The Courage of an Open Heart," "Dying Words," and "We Are All Returning Home." "Dying Words" starts off pretty aggressive, but the tempo gets faster as the blast beats come in. The sludgy guitar riffs, and even the intensity of Buddy's screams can be compared to Norma Jean. "We Are All Returning Home" has almost that same aspect, except the tempo stays quick until the spoken word parts, and cleans towards the end of the song. The neat history behind this track, is their producer, Shaun Lopez (also guitarist for Crosses and Far) wrote all of the guitar parts two years ago. One of the coolest parts aside from the heavy tracks are on moments such as "Wounds." During the intro, a crystalline synth is being played. Initially, Buddy wanted to give off a Hopesfall, Envy, and Deftones vibe from it, but with heavy emphasis on Hopesfall. Overall, the song is like a mix between past songs, "Closure/Rebirth" and "Yellow Angels," which is interesting. You can watch the commentary here, and for each individual song. "Three Marks of Existence" is honestly the only song that has so many Converge influences, mainly in the guitar riffs. The band wanted it to be the first song as it just kicks your right in the ass right away. Not to mention the fact that it's only 1:52 in length. "Surrender" brings back some old Senses Fail vibes. If you're not into heavy SF, then you'll definitely like this song since it's all singing. The final song, "My Fear of an Unlived Life" I would say is the most difficult song to listen to, as most of the singing is so softly spoken.
Lyrics — 10
"I used to want to die but now I believe, not in a distant god but there is a love I found in me," Buddy Nielson sings in "Carry the Weight." To me, the lyric is powerful, as someone who has had suicidal thoughts before. Around the 1:43 part is where the song goes into this spacey mode that is very reminiscent towards earlier Senses Fail works. "Wounds" is another song that also has some deep lyrics:
"The pictures they fade, my horrible memories fade
They burst into fire when I chose to let love be my guide
Depression, anxiety and shame, they almost killed me
Obsession, addiction and pain, they almost killed me
The wounds that never heal are the ones you refuse to see
Be the change you seek."
The song that really took me off guard was the lead single, "The Importance of the Moment of Death." The song has some neat riffs, but the song leaked as a weird music video, but I did understand the message. Buddy explains further in the commentary, and now that I know, the song means so much more to me. Most of the tracks he talks about Buddhism, but this song in particular spoke to me the most in that aspect. From the commentary he says: "You either cling to your life or you let go. It is said that those who cling to their life will be reborn and those who are enlightened will be able to let go and ultimately reach their bottom." The lyric from the song, "I am no longer afraid to die" explains how he's no longer afraid to die in shame for sexuality and who he is. He also explains how he's not sure if he believes in reincarnation. To me, the video really explained well, especially since my cat had just died the other day, and my mom is Buddhist, so hopefully the whole reincarnation thing is true.
Another song that really spoke to me was the title track. I just saw Senses Fail live for the first time recently, and he gave a speech about how he had been drinking for 9 years straight every day because he didn't know where he stood with his sexuality. Personally, I know exactly how he feels. I just opened up as bisexual recently, and I still don't know how to tell my family or some friends. These lyrics go further into the topic:
"I tried so hard to run away from the truth
I hated myself so I abused my soul, my heart, my body for the sexuality that I didn't choose."
As I said earlier in the sounds section, "My Fear of an Unlived Life" is a very difficult song to listen to, but once Buddy screams later on in the song, the emotion comes across as very satisfying, and the lyrics portray that emotion. We have all lost a loved one in one way or another, and to me, this song was a perfect way to end the album:
"We are all longing for connection, we are all longing for acceptance
There is nothing that shows more strength than meeting pain with compassion
Because we all have wounded hearts, we are all just as blind in the dark
We all quiver in fear when the ones we love disappear."
Overall Impression — 10
Senses Fail have proved once again that they are capable or writing some very good material. Lyrically, this is some insanely heavy content, so thankfully there is a commentary video on each song. Each song contains some sort of powerful message, and for me some lyrics had brought me to tears because I have gone through some of the same things, whether that be about sexuality, self harm, or an important death in my life. "Renacer" wasn't nearly as powerful, but it was an album that got me hooked on first listen because it was so easy to headbang and listen to. On this album, Senses Fail further that new sound that was found on "Renacer," and go outside of their comfort zone on each track. This isn't an album that may grab you right away on first listen. I had to give it a few listens for it to sink in, and let me tell you, it's a beauty.