Review Summary: Senses Fail has made a gambit with this "Still Searching"; they lost a lot of fans with "Let It Enfold You" and quite possibly could lose the fans made from that album, or also equally possible they could gain their older ones back. When it comes down to4 of 5 thought this review was well written
It has been two years since "Let It Enfold You", Senses Fail's debut full-length release, came out. Much has changed; much has stayed the same for Senses Fail. With a new guitarist in the band, the other members hyping his skills, and Buddy Neilson's ever-apparent drinking problem being dealt with, it appears that 2006 may be a year of conquest and redemption for the band. In comes "Still Searching", a concept album very closely based on Buddy's life.
Many fans who loved the band when they came out with "From The Depths of Dreams EP" hated "Let It Enfold You" and vice versa. It wasn't apparent then whether, or not the band was intentionally trying to become more commercial, or just changing their sound up. Well, the answer has been delivered with "Still Searching". An album chock full with the sound that Senses Fail has always delivered no matter what, but reveals that the band is indeed still trying to find it's own niche.
One problem that had always entangled the good moments of "From The Depths of Dreams EP", or "Let It Enfold You" was Buddy's singing. He could be nasal at times and hard to bear, but other times also able to bring extremely melodic moments to the pleasure of the ears. Now Buddy has gained more control over his voice and immensely helped the quality of the music. Senses Fail has also taken queue from AFI's music and more recently Rise Against's by adding in distinctive, background vocal chants. Tracks such as "Sick or Sane (Fifty for a Twenty)" and "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues" are ambitious and probably not something that people would have expected of the band. Those who know the song "American Death" from the special edition of "Let It Enfold You" now have a slight
idea of a lot of songs from "Still Searching", which would be heavier music along with variations in riffs instead of regular chord progressions that are kept to the same rhythmic formula.
It's not all heavy however; there is little screaming to be found on "Still Searching", but when there is it fits perfectly. The greatest showing of Senses Fail's advances is "Shark Attack"
. It may be short at 2:53, but it is the band's heaviest song yet. The interplay of the drums and guitars is perfectly entwined so that at times one might think Senses Fail was trying to make a metalcore song. Buddy's overlaps the first half of the song with strictly clean vocals, but doesn't alleviate any sense of the song being softer, and then breaks all out with screaming during a surprisingly metal-tinged breakdown (albeit a very predictable one when metalcore is involved).
Nearly the opposite of "Shark Attack"
is "The Priest and the Matador"
. It's interesting to see how "Still Searching" is closed. It almost seems as if Buddy expects himself to eventually fall and in the end fail with his attempt to secure a stable life for himself. The concept of the album shows this by the main character of the album not accepting help from God. Buddy delivers some of the most emotional, impressive vocals of his career. This is the slowest song on the record, but still is experimented with. There's a slow guitar solo in the middle, and then the inclusion of an electric acoustic guitar is also used throughout. When the longest song of the record fades out it's hard to say how it feels other than being quite somber, but also elated.
If "From The Depths of Dreams EP", or "Let It Enfold You" both failed miserably together in anything it was the lyrical aspect of each respective record. Buddy Neilson would often portray violent images in a poetic manner on both, but with "Still Searching" he has looked toward his drinking problem as a resource. Of all songs the most intriguing is "Bonecrusher". There are times where it's plainly obvious what Buddy is singing about ("Drink up, drink up the loneliness"), but then there are times when he could easily be mistaken for singing of a relationship when he's clearly using it as an allusion to relate to drinking ("And I've got romantic ideas, but they're not meant for you. My bed is filled with red roses to show that love is through"). With this, Buddy reveals he has quit, or at least is trying to quit, drinking. The only disappointing aspect of the lyrics is that Buddy has lost his poetic touch and instead headed toward a more straightforward approach with only the inclusion of allusions at times.
To try and compare whether "Still Searching" is more like "Let It Enfold You", or "From The Depths of Dreams EP" is futile because it truly is it's own album. Senses Fail has evolved, but as the album title suggests, is still developing. Weaknesses that had previously plagued the band now have been reversed into strengths. Additions to Senses Fail's repertoire also further the evolving of the group. The group chants and guitar solos make for fantastic as well as fresh. For me, "Still Searching" is a strong contender for album of the year.
-"Sick or Sane (Fifty for a Twenty)"
-"All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues"
+Music structure improved greatly over last two records
+Guest spot from Ryan of Yellowcard
+Buddy's vocals have improved a lot
+Addition of background vocals helps improve quality of the record
-Depressing at times
Senses Fail has made a gambit with this album; they lost a lot of fans with "Let It Enfold You" and quite possibly could lose the fans made from that album, or also equally possible they could gain their older ones back. Final Score: 4.5/5