Senses Fail are back with their boldest album to date. Encompassing front man Buddy Nielsen’s journey through his life both musically and personally. His dedication to Buddhist teachings, and his newfound identification as ‘queer’ have had direct roles in the creation of their latest album, ‘Pull The Thorns From Your Heart’. This album fronts Nielsen’s growth and change. Although fueled with anger, the intention is to show the need of friction for change.
It was clear from the off that this album was going to be intense. The opening track, ‘The Three Marks Of Existence’ is fueled with anger. Atmospheric feedback noise introduces this track before a crushing riff propels us straight into the heart of this opening track. Although spiritual at heart, this opening track is a flawless head banger. Each riff gaining momentum to what is a short but sweet opening track.
Second track is ‘Carry The Weight’, a much more melodic song, with driven cleans and growls throughout the early stages of the track. Around the 1:40 mark the song takes a turn, capturing a more atmospheric approach, with haunting cleans and a powerful drum section. From what was a very varied opening set of tracks, it was clear to see that this album was set out to show progression throughout.
Where’d the riffs go? After a seemingly melodic second track, it seems track three was making up for the lack of in-yer-face riffage. ‘The Courage Of An Open Heart’ is the angriest song on the record so far. Opening with the low rumble of guitars and crushing screams from Nielsen’s increasingly hateful vocal cords. As the main verse opens we hear the words, ‘I need the truth’. From this line alone, it is clear this track is in search of something more, and sets about a rampage of fast vocal-orientated destruction.
Following a seemingly hateful then melodic pattern, track four is a more progressive step up from track two. Again, using atmospheric guitar sounds to break up the driven sections of the song, ’Wounds’ is a song that progresses in a much more thoughtful and thought-provoking way, unlike some of the full-frontal, all out aggressive songs earlier on in the album.
Five songs into the album, and I think this is where the album picks up momentum and starts to come together. ‘Take Refuge’ captures both the melodic and driven courses that the previous tracks have taken. A much more stable style of track that still provides us with that progression, but without the consistency of being solely melodic or heavy.
‘Surrender’ is the lightest track on the album so far. A much more ‘ballad’ style track, with a tame tempo and melody, and clean vocals throughout, giving it a presence that we have not yet heard on this album. In my opinion, this is the best track on the album so far. It just works really well. Much more experimental compared to previous songs on the album, and one that really takes advantage of the bands clean vocal capability. Instrumentally, this track takes a huge step away from their heavier tracks and although simple, it makes for a very easy-listening track that still has a punch. The last section builds up again with the addition of background screams and a punchy drum accompaniment and left me feeling content and satisfied. I was intrigued to hear what the next track held.
Just as I thought the album was taking a more melodic turn, we get to the track, ‘Dying Words’. After ‘Surrender’ I was expecting maybe a more subtle track. I could not have been further from the point. More punishment from the guitar section. A track solely written around the bands ability to provide blood-curdling riffs. Hardcore elements creeping into the main section of the track as well as an impressive display of drumming throughout. Blast beast sections being the highlight of this. A track that did come as a shock one that maybe lies as a suggestion to how the album will come to a close.
It seems that ‘Surrender’ was possibly the last melody driven track that I would here on this album. ‘The Importance Of The Moment Of Death 1’, the only single to be released off of this album so far, is another rage-filled track that spews hate. ‘I wanna believe’ being the reoccurring line throughout the chorus sections of the track. A solid track that screams out the anger that Nielsen talks about and starts to bring this album into its climax.
With only three songs left on the album, we come to the title track. ‘Pull The Thorns From Your Heart’, another raging, hardcore vibe track that screams Nielsen’s fight and journey. Screaming ‘Be bold, be amazing’. Just as it seems the song has ended there is the whisper, ‘Pull The Thorns From Your Heart’, before resuming into a cold-hearted riff from hell.
Penultimate track, and by far the quickest track on the album, is ‘We Are All Returning Home’. This track is filled with fast sections of drum and guitar work in juxtaposition with mellow whole-hearted sections of clean singing. It seems the contrast that was heard at the beginning of the album has come full circle.
To end the album comes ‘My Fear Of A Unlived Life’. Starting with a stunning atmospheric guitar piece, that is then layered with the addition of clean vocals and a simple drums beat. Like ‘Surrender’, this is a much more balladic track, that really divides and contrasts with some of the faster paced tracks on the album, something that I think could have been used a lot more throughout this album. Two lines that stood out to me during this track are ‘There’s nothing that shows more strength than meeting pain with compassion’ and ‘We’re all fighting for acceptance’. Clearly highlighting Nielsen’s struggle and fight throughout his journey, this track feels like a solid ending and on a positive note. The tone of this track feels conclusive and draws the journey to it’s end.
The album as a whole is quite strange if you approach it without reading the description. The album does not really make sense as a standard album goes. Lots of mixed tracks, that vary in intensity and style. But when you relate it to the journey that the album is set about describing, then it begins to make sense. Highlights? I have to say I really appreciate ‘Surrender’ and ‘My Fear Of A Unlived Life’. Both really stood out to me as great tracks and stood way above the rest, in my opinion. There is nothing wrong with the other tracks, don’t get me wrong, but I just felt that those two tracks stood out as ‘great’ tracks.
Now, Senses Fail are currently out on Vans Warped Tour and will be covering the festival in its entirety. However, for UK and European fans, they will be back in the UK throughout September and October this year. 22 dates, covering both the UK and mainland Europe, alongside Counterparts and Capsize. This will be the bands first tour with this album, so if you like it, make sure to get to one of those dates.
Review by Siôn Roe