With a career thus far typified by the genre defining high-points of their early offerings, and a somewhat uninspired mid-noughties slump, the recent rebirth of New Jersey five-piece Senses Fail is a criminally overlooked victory not only for the waning fortunes of post-hardcore, but also for a once vital outfit who looked to be years beyond their creative peak. If 2013’s ‘Renacer’ represented something of a phoenix from the ashes, ‘Pull The Thorns From Your Heart’ is more of a genuine re-invigoration, a flourishing sprawl of fearless experimentation, and spittle flecked aggression which belies their thirteen year and counting life span.
From the chest-thumping hardcore belligerence of opener ‘The Three Marks Of Existence’, ‘Pull The Thorns…’ refuses to compromise an inch on either its hard-nosed metallic bite or rich melodic haze. The glistening beauty of ‘Wounds’ and ‘Carry The Weight’‘s fists aloft ambiance contrast wildly to the visceral hammer-to-the-jaw attack of ‘Dying Words’ or a heaving ‘The Courage Of An Open Heart’, yet a vein popping performance from ringleader Buddy Nielsen, and some simply pin-sharp songwriting across the board, manages to pull together these seemingly divergent influences.
Indeed, as far as ‘Pull The Thorns…’ is the heaviest release from the band yet, it’s the melodic allure of the album’s more understated moments which thrill the most. Endearing closer ‘My Fear Of An Unlived Live’ is a good case in point, but it’s as the shimmering, shoe-gaze aping ‘Surrender’ bursts in a storm of sonic colour that we see just how exquisitely on top of their game the quartet are here.
It’s rare that a record manages to combine such fragile elegance and bristling hostility with the unreserved aplomb we see here, and between its muscular weight and haunting, dark hued splendor, it’s an undeniably immersive experience. A stirring, emotionally dauntless piece of work, this is Senses Fail at the apex of their powers.
Written by Tony Bliss (@TBliss88)