Senses Fail
The Fire

Senses Fail - The Fire

Four years ago, Senses Fail displayed a sonic shift in their music with the releases of their second album, Still Searching. Featuring improved lyrics and vocals, as well as a more aggressive approach in their song writing, the band won over new fans with this release. It was so well-received that fans were disappointed when 2008’s Life Is Not A Waiting Room was more of the same. The New Jersey quartet wasn’t pleased either, as vocalist Buddy Nielsen voiced his displeasure over that record and vowed that the follow-up would be the band’s best yet. Nielsen and company went into the studio to create their most complete album ever, aptly named The Fire. Full of aggression and just enough catchiness to please both types of fans, The Fire is an album that most of Senses Fail’s peers wish they could make.

Based on the previous three albums, no one would confuse Senses Fail as being very posi. Macabre lyrics about chainsaws and knives littered their debut, while their previous two albums have shown a much more mature approach from Nielsen, as he confronts his past demons and his loss of faith. But one of the most refreshing things about The Fire is the glimmer of optimism in Nielsen’s lyrics. Sure, he is still pissed off at his father (listen to “News Year Eve” for evidence), but he also knows that he needs to forgive to move on (as heard on the pulverizing “Coward”). The catchy first single, “Saint Anthony,” also displays a silver lining, as Nielsen explains, “Because I’ll make it through this no matter the odds/all bets are on “It’s always darkest just before the dawn,” over the needling guitar riffs of Garrett Zablocki. 

Of course it’s not all roses and sunshine on The Fire. Fans looking for the angry side of Nielsen and company need to look no further than the furious “New Years Eve,” as Nielsen’s screams have reached a new level of furor. The aforementioned “Coward” features the most passionate breakdown in the band’s discography, while “Landslide” flows in the vein of “Can’t Be Saved” (from 2006’s Still Searching). The pinnacle occurs during “Lifeboats,” which may be the heaviest song the band has ever made. Zablocki’s guitar chords, along with drummer Dan Trapp, pummel throughout, while Nielsen seamlessly transitions from clean to screamed vocals. 

The final two tracks summarize the mindset of Nielsen and the band perfectly. The urgent thrash of “Irish Eyes” once again features his rough growl, while the melodic “Hold On” closes the album in fine fashion. Musically, the songs are dramatically different, but both possess the same theme that’s present throughout The Fire – the fear and rush of changing your life and letting go of your past and fighting your demons. Nielsen knows he isn’t all the way out of the dark, but he’s making progress towards the light, and these final two tracks are perfect examples.

The most impressive thing about Senses Fail is that, nearly 10 years into the game, they are still writing honest and genuine rock music without succumbing to the gimmicks other “rock” bands place in their music. These Jersey boys have found a way to remain relevant in a genre that has caused the demise of many other bands. Yes, there are imperfections (a recycled riff here, some flat vocals there), but overall The Fire is the essential Senses Fail record to own. Time and time again, Senses Fail proves that whatever doesn’t kill only makes you stronger.

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