Review Summary: Breaking News: Buddy Nielson has been seperated from his testes. Senses Fail has lost its manhood, and has fallen into a state of mainstream regression. Have fun with this one critics, your gonna have a goddamn field day.
3 of 4 thought this review was well written
I'm out...I am without a doubt the biggest fanboy of Senses Fail on this site. Introduced to me by a local scene girl I was forced to work with in my English class three years ago, I was instantly hooked and jumped on the bandwagon just in time for the release of Still Searching, which ranked among my favorite albums of all time; but then again, I am just a typical 15 year old with no musical taste whatsoever. What I am trying to get at here is that basically, Life Is Not a Waiting Room is nothing but a shadow of what Still Searching was; and coming from me, the ultimate fanboy, that makes it an utter disappointment.
Not that Senses Fail is a spectacular band in any right, I just found their corny lyrics as something relevant to everyday life, many a critic had said that my personally rabid interest in Still Searching and the band in general would fade as I listened to more diverse forms of music . They were wrong, Still Searching stuck with me, I listened to it almost daily and used it to think, motivate before games and work out to. I had massive expectations for the follow up, and anxiously waited for the release. I avoided the MySpace stream due to the poor justice I found it did New Surrender and waited until it was available on Rhapsody to get it in good musical quality and found that it fell apocalyptically short of what I expected.
Senses Fail's strength had never been in its instrumentation, for one, they played generic pop-punk laced with traces of metalcore elements. Their lyrics had always been the driving force behind the music. Whether it be corny, relationship metaphors on Let it Enfold You, or the deep story of personal struggle that made Still Searching what it was, Buddy's thoughtful lyrics and emotional delivery always kept listeners coming back. Although not the most talented of vocalists (to say the least) Buddy’s rather lackluster vocal ability was always covered by clever production, group vocals, background singing, or denser musical structure. Unfortunately, the producers drastically altered and exposed Buddy's delivery for this work, his voice now nasally and prepubescent (see Hair of the Dog) and his screams higher (Wolves at the Door). The songs have lost their magic and lack the IT factor that made tracks such as Buried a Lie, Calling All Cars, The Priest and the Matador and Bite to Break Skin what they were.
Musically, it appears the band has taken a step forward in creating a more unique sound. The instrumentation, although as previously stated not being the band’s strength, was always catchy enough to cover the vocals and has taken a few steps in a positive direction. More complex riffs and new guitar effects replace what would have previously been basic power chord progressions, and more metalcore type elements have been incorporated; among them faster, thicker double bass, used more extensively by drummer Dan Trapp than on the band’s previous effort, and more breakdown type sections. Zablocki and Saraceno’s dueling guitars are as stated previously more complex, and play a more varied style than in the past, generating a dare I say; progier effect than before.
The opener, Fireworks at Dawn, seemed to be building up to something epic, just like The Rapture on Still Searching, but just in general, Life Is Not a Waiting Room just failed to meet its potential. It drags on as an album filled with what-if and if-only. Songs like Map the Streets and Chandelier fall in the ok-average range, something I’m not used to at all. The passion in the songwriting and vocal delivery is all but gone, a shallow shell of its self. The screams can only attempt to compensate and come across as poorly done, and sometimes exist only as background effects that do a horrible job of covering Buddy’s apparent pubic regression, his voice still coming across as whiney and shrill. A few bright spots do appear throughout the album however. The catchy Garden State and anguished Ali for Cody feature some excellent solo riffing and guitar harmonies and the depressed Hair of the Dog, although marred by a poor vocal performance, is still emotional enough to suit my tastes. The real highlight is the lead single, Family Tradition. With that old sense of personal passion and conviction, excellent lyrics and a solid delivery, Buddy brings back the old days as the song explodes into an unbelievable chorus laden with group vocals and double bass, the best moment on the album.
Senses Fail is inching closer and closer to the mainstream, softy ballad Yellow Angels and the vocally disabled Four Years, although not terrible songs, show that the band may be in danger of selling out, if they have not already. With this new found love for the mainstream and no real changes in between releases save for the loss of bassist Mike Glita, Senses Fail has nothing to account for their change in sound.
Senses Fail have shown nothing short of progress over their relatively short music career, just three albums in, they had already proved to me that they were at the forefront of the horribly boring pop-punk genre. Their unique mix of metal elements, pop-punk harmonies, and deep, reflective lyrics, kept listeners interested, and always made for a fun listen. Still Searching was intensely passionate, albeit depressing, but was so perfectly structured and produced that it had earned its place among my favorites to this day. Unfortunately, this album disappoints in most ways for fans expecting something.. My opinion is biased, and casual listeners will see nothing more than a bunch of above-average, more deeply thought-out pop-punk songs, but to true fans of the band, Life is Not a Waiting Room will seem like an epic fail, coming across as drained and tired, as an exhausted Senses Fail desperately tries to regain thier former footing.
The Clear Best
Hair of the Dog
The Bottom Line: Buddy’s apparent castration has ruined this promising band at the core, crippling its foundation and ruining the only thing they had going for them; unless something changes, this band will go nowhere fast.
I didn't really think Senses Fail were ever "manly" in the first place haha...I don't really see how they're getting more mainstream by being heavier and slightly more complex though...Let It Enfold You was probably their most mainstream album...IMO Buddy's slightly altered voice isn't really that much different but eh, it does kind of seem like you keep focusing on the vocals a little to much but maybe its just me...
Anyways...generally ok review...
You avoided much of the hyperbole from the Anberlin review and by and large this is a perfectly solid review which I'm sure you are delighted to know I pos'd.
Just a few bits of constructive criticism.
1. Don't write in first person (I think, I like, I know etc..) it's not a literary crime but it is a little unproffesional and in the long run you would be better to just write in facts. I mean this is your review so we all know it's what you think, meaning there's no need to preface things by saying in my opinion and so on.
So instead of "Not that I found Senses Fail to be a spectacular band in any right, I just found their corny lyrics as something I could relate to," write, Senses Fail have never been a spectacular band per se but their corny lyrics are relatable.
2. "many a critic told me my rabid interest in Still Searching and the band in general would fade as I developed a more mature musical taste" No offence dude but you haven't yet developed a "mature" taste and while I fully endorse a to each their own mentality Bayside and Anberlin are not mature bands.
3. The most obvious issue with this band is that their singer is a horrendous vocalist and really really cannot sing at all. You didn't really touch upon that even though to me that should be the crux of any Senses Fail review, quite how bad does Buddy sound this time out?
4. You continually bash their music but from other sources I've heard this is a huge stand out on both this album and Still Searching and contrary to what you claim the music is saving Buddy's sub par lyrics and vocals.
5. At times you use too many adjectives and not enough descriptives. Like "nice guitar work" and statements like that. Now that's all well and good but nice guitar works gives me no idea at all what the guitar work sounds like. When you proof read your review it's a good idea to read as an outsider who's never heard the band before and ask yourself after reading will the reader be very clear what the songs sound like, what are the albums strengths and what are it's weaknesses in terms of songs and music or by other measures.
I am by no means a great reviewer and this is by no means a bad review but those are just a few tips I have after reading this.
Good review. Maybe I just need to listen to this record more but the vocals don't really hinder any of the songs here IMO. Buddy's singing is a bit weaker here than Still Searching but I think his screams are better than ever. This Message Edited On 10.06.08
you don't know how much i want to agree with you, i really had high hopes for this but it just straight up fails, idk what to hope for now, ive been looking forward to this for months, i guess since i was two for two with anberlin and T.I. this one had to fail
I disagree with the score but sort of get where you're coming at. I think it's a rather good album, not as amazing as Still Searching was, but how many bands are able to follow up the album of their careers the first time? They stucked with what worked and improved on what didn't. It's stuck in the middle of satisfying, as Still Searching was great and this is a lot like it, and dissapointing because they didn't expand as much as they did between Let It Enfold You and Still Searching.
So....a disclaimer, im totally not saying anything to offend anyone here, but this is about the most uninformative review i have ever read. i dont get where this term "sold-out" came from, but its frankly a bit annoying. i dont believe in the term, in fact. it just doesnt make sense to me. so what if they are playing music that appeals to a wider variety of individuals, or what sells. i would say the work on this album is great for a couple of viable reasons. first, the production quality is amazing. Brian McTernan, who also produced some of Thrice's work did a great work here as well as still searching. now i will agree that the vocals are lacking what they had in still searching, but overall, as a band, Senses Fail have their feet on the ground and are running. so i say we cut all the "sell out" talk, and just enjoy what these people spend hours and hours and hours in the studio creating. i know, i have recorded and it takes long restless hours. but hey, we all have our own opinions, so in that, i totally respect the opinion of the reviewer.