Sound — 8
You may know a few things about Senses Fail, but sadly there's a chance you may have forgotten them. The listening statistics haven't favoured them greatly since their boom in the mid '00s, and recent output has been rather pale. Compounding their bad luck, founding guitarist Garrett Zablocki left in 2011, leaving them with a new album to write and a new identity to carve in his absence. They've set the bar high - "Renacer" means "to be reborn" in Spanish but on this evidence here there are no dramas. None at all.
New guy Matt Smith has galvanized them. New life is abound in the riffs, and riffs are what drives this album. There are nods to Finch, Every Time I Die and Slipknot, sometimes in the same song, and the way they're handled is unlike anything the band have previously done in any great measure.
"Renacer" is heavier but also more accommodating to new influences. Prior to this their tendency was to go right for the vocal hook and beef the guitars as a sort of pop enabler; this time the approach is more varied, both vocally and in terms of where emphasis is placed. "The Path" is a perfect example, harsh and volatile but cuddling up to artier rock influences in the intermittent vocal melody. Following that is "Canine", a song not a million miles away from crust punk in the beginning, and then "Glass", a rockier track which uses aggressive vocals as a foil to introspective guitars. It's a fascinating study of the riff if that's how you choose to treat it. Remember to read and listen within the parameters of Senses Fail and their often-ridiculed genre and you'll start to get an idea of how refreshing this is.
Lyrics — 7
There is, in fact, improvement in all areas besides lyrics. Buddy Nielsen sounds gruff when he screams and ever-more mature when he sings. The nasally American it seems, have also been phased out. However, one of the most intelligible and most surprising lines from "Glass" is "it doesn't matter if you fall down/get the f--k back up", and that about sums up where they're at lyrically. Those kinds of lines are rare and the serviceable, personal themes are all well and good, but Nielsen hasn't quite kept pace with the musical progression when he's put pen to paper.
Overall Impression — 8
"Renacer" is really quite impressive. You do worry that it may have come too late for some people but here Senses Fail have proven they've got something good going and it's something out of nothing. The album falls just short of capturing high quality consistently, but expect them to improve on that next time - for now, their foot is in the door. Give them another chance or consider your loyalty repaid, because this is quite possibly the best album they've ever made.