Much like their peers in Hawthorne Heights, Senses Fail may have surprised some people with how they’ve outlasted their post-hardcore/scene peers. And just like the Ohio quartet, the guys in Senses Fail are still unleashing some of their best work. And after facing some early career label drama and hype, the New Jersey quintet has released solid album after solid album, and they finally get to celebrate that fact with their best-of collective, the aptly titled Follow Your Bliss. But it wouldn’t be a party without some new SF songs, and luckily we get a four song EP that’s stuffed with everything you love about the band and more.
Opening track “War Paint” is classic Buddy Nielsen, as he seamlessly transitions from his brutal bellows into his melodic croon, a move he has perfected over the years. Backed by an onslaught of dueling guitars from Matt Smith and Zach Roach, Nielsen spills his guts over the song’s escalating bridge/outro. “Vines” showcases the band’s knack for catchy choruses, as it weaves through the aggressive guitar chords – needling its way into your cerebellum.
The urgency flowing through “Early Graves” showcases the band at its best, especially Nielsen, whom has really come into his own as a vocalist. He’ll never be regarded as the best vocalist, but compared to Senses Fail’s earlier releases (notably From The Depths of Dreams and Let It Enfold You), Nielsen has made huge strides. He’s always in control and plays to his strengths; whether it’s going from a pop-punk nasal into a gruff hardcore shout, it’s what packs the punch in each song.
That passion is felt throughout the closing track “Waves,” as Smith and Roach’s guitar work crashes upon your ears as Nielsen’s vocals jab back and forth with the charging rhythm set by bassist Jason Black and drummer Dan Trapp. Nielsen’s lyrics have never ringed more true for the band (“I would rather sink or sail in fear/than be anchored by the coast/wading in the water of the shallows./You can’t catch wind when sails are closed.), and he closes out the EP shouting, “I’ll never truly learn to love till I let go/until the waves do set me free,” over the final charge of the crushing instrumentation. It’s classic Senses Fail and exactly what fans will be craving when they get their hands on this set. Still writing music like they have something to prove, Follow Your Bliss is the perfect capper to Senses Fail’s first decade as they move into their next.