Review Summary: Buddy is still the best, and worst, part of this band.
I don't know who is really listening to Senses Fail anymore. This is not meant to be a jab at the band, but more or less a real question on demographics. Between the shift that occurred with Renacer and the way the band has bounced around corners of post-hardcore and pop-punk after 2013, the band's sound hasn't really galvanized in the latter half of their career. When Senses Fail started, they existed in a scene of pop-punk bands that sounded very similar, but despite that, Buddy and Co. held popularity and significance with their fanbase. In 2022, they're sorta in the same boat, but the difference is that they have regressed back to that point rather than having risen to it.
Now I won't pretend to be up to date with their entire discog (I skipped Life is Not A Waiting's last section and never got to If There is Light), but I have noticed they can't quite find their footing in their "new" sound. This is pretty evident in the way that Hell is in Your Head attempts to call back Still Searching in it's concept; whether it's in some of the musicianship or in the way the lyrics vaguely "reference" Still Searching's story, which I'm still attempting to tease out, to be honest.
That isn't to say that the record sucks, but in many ways it's bests moments are bolstered by some fragile songwriting decisions and some pretty on-the-nose lyrics. Further, Buddy's voice has always been an acquired taste, but his cleans are just nasally, even on record. With these two elements you get some pretty interesting results. You might be emotionally wrapped up in a moment when suddenly, Buddy sings "The bees are disappearing," and it just seems that the idea is there but the execution could be better. This is probably the biggest problem with the record, and I'd say the only time it actually benefits Hell is in Your Head is with "Grow Away From Me," which is basically just a love letter to his child. In this sense, the vulnerability is very palpable and the messiness is kind of the point.
Hell is in Your Head is a record, that as a fan, I find pretty enjoyable due to it's energy and some of it feels like classic Senses Fail. Though, after Pull The Thorns From Your Heart, I was expecting Senses Fail to mature into a more experimental group. And if I am being honest, Hell is in Your Head being a sequel kind of feels like a cop-out, because "Lush Rimbaugh" and "Death By Water," for different reasons, realistically wouldn't be on anything related to Still Searching. Looking past that, Hell is in Your Head is still a solid helping of Senses Fail, even if it just seems like a mid-life crisis on the surface.
And seriously, how did Death By Water's main riff even get into Senses Fail's canon?
Rating: somewhere between 2.7-3.2