Album Review: Senses Fail
“Is it just me or do you wonder if we were put here just to see / how much heartache we can take without hanging from the tallest tree?” Buddy Nielsen poses this question in the album’s first single, “Saint Anthony,” and will spend the rest of the album making a strong argument for this point, as he screams and sings his way through this intense and personal therapy session titled The Fire. Buddy has always written songs that are close to him personally, and in the past his honesty has turned into some very good songs. On The Fire, the fourth full album from Senses Fail, he continues to stick to personal songs, but has now gone even further, not just venting his emotions, but beginning a new process in which he explores the reasons why he has those feelings. This self-reflective therapy, in which he is working through his issues, has created a new batch of songs that are not only good, but some of the best songs of his career.
A strong focus of the album seems to be the absence of his father in his life, and you can feel his struggle as he tries to sort out the bitter feelings that have grown within him over the years. The album shows a back and forth battle in which he yearns for a father that has failed him, but at the same time is a father that he wants nothing to do with (“New Year’s Eve,” “Coward,” “Hold On”). Although this may seem like dark subject matter, which could in some cases create a downer of an album, Buddy balances his torment and rage beautifully, screaming verses of anger and then plunging into anthemic choruses with his heart on full display.
Other stops on this journey include Buddy taking a close look at himself, pondering the reasons that he still feels let down by this life, and can find no comfort in love (“The Fire,” “Saint Anthony,” “Lifeboats”). These songs can be more relatable on a basic level, for anybody that has ever felt lonely or let down. The best part of Senses Fail’s music has always been that it provides a certain type of comfort, because the listener knows that there is someone out there that knows exactly how they feel, and that they are not alone in their pain.
The rest of the band balances music with these dark lyrics masterfully, complementing Buddy’s voice with ease. Thrashing guitars over a relentless drumbeat help to give force to Buddy’s righteous anger as he screams, while in the choruses the band lets back just enough so as not to be overbearing, but rather supplement the vocals, giving power to the emotions felt by its singer. All in all, it is Senses Fail’s most well put together album yet, and it seems that the band has finally found it’s perfect sound, a combination of the best elements of its previous three albums. One can only hope that if Buddy ever does start to climb that tallest tree, he will put out a few more albums like this one first.