Senses Fail Reach Higher Ground On 'Pull the Thorns From Your Heart'
Senses Fail could let this stage of their career be easy if they wanted to. Having created a defining record of the screamo scene with 2004's 'Let it Enfold You', and becoming the favourite band for many teens at the time. They could headline in any city they wanted and could spend the rest of their days basking in the warm glow of nostalgia and living in the past.
Instead, they've announced a UK run supporting Counterparts, a more aggressive group that probably listened to Buddy Nielsen's words in high school. If you're heading to any of these shows, prepare to hear a lot of material from new album 'Pull the Thorns From Your Heart' and prepare to be floored by it.
Naturally, 'Pull the Thorns From Your Heart' is a personal album. Rather than Nielsen releasing past demons across the lyrics, the entire concept is based on his gradual transformation as a person through Buddhist practices, identifying as queer and finding inner peace.
With this evolution in lyrical approach, the group's sound seems to have evolved into something richer. But more importantly, as you can hear on the opener, "the Three Marks of Existence", they're also sounding more brutal.
They have put more effort into showing how heavy they can get here than on past records. "The Courage of an Open Heart" has more in common with "This is Hell" or "Have Heart", as it rips into a charge of red blooded hardcore insanity.
While "Dying Words" sees Buddy getting more guttural with vocals, Zack Roach's riff on "We Are All Returning Home" makes the track sound like a well produced black metal group. The bursts of intensity catch you off-guard, but it's gratifying to hear the venom they still have to give.
When not trying to be more extreme on record, the band's melodic moments sound as fresh as ever, but "Wounds" is the most transcendental their songwriting has been. Nielsen smoothly proclaims "I was so afraid to face the truth and open wide, the fear that I would float away". With a voice as dreamy as the song's entire backdrop, It's possibly the most comfortable Buddy has ever sounded in the studio, making it more beautiful.
Ultimately, 'Pull the Thorns From Your Heart' is a tale of one man's personal growth and and journey to inner peace and self-acceptance. It's not the first record of it's kind, but it's a record that realises that having more delicate songs isn't the only sign of maturity, as some of the Senses Fail's most unhinged and chaotic songs are on board among more spiritual tracks. The album doesn't necessarily feel like a return-to-form, but more like an ascent in the band's songwriting career. It's stunning, and feels anything but nostalgic. Senses Fail are living in the now.
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Words by Andy Davidson