Tuesday, October 14, 2008

album review: senses fail - life is not a waiting room (2008)

Artist: Senses Fail
Album: Life is Not a Waiting Room
Record Label: Vagrant Records
Release Date: Oct 7, 2008

It's completely understandable that Senses Fail follows the formula that garnered it recognition and praise in the past two years. Regardless of preference, it's hard to deny the progression the group made from its debut LP Let in Enfold You to Still Searching. However, if the formula wasn't that extraordinary to begin with, there will continue to be detractors, and for a band as contrived and generic as Senses Fail, it's no surprise that Still Searching sold more than 750,000 albums.

Life is Not a Waiting Room is the New Jersey quintet's third full-length album and second on Vagrant Records. Like every band that is on the brink of releasing a new album, this is the group's "best music to date." Singer Buddy Nielson described the songs as "having a real sense of urgency" and having a lot of "grit and power." Guess you could say most of us are still searching for that. Bad puns aside, on to the album.

Waiting Room kicks off with "Fireworks at Dawn," which is more or less the album's best song. The drumming intro sets a cadence that is hard to ignore, but the band fails to follow through after this. The rest of the album is uninspired and cliché, as it is song after song of dark and haunting themes over melodic and moderately heavy music.

The main strengths in Senses Fail are the musicians, namely the guitarists. Heath Saraceno and Garrett Zablocki do a pristine job at handling the guitar duties, with tip-top solos in "Lungs Like Gallows" and "Wolves at the Door." The drummer, Dan Trapp, is talented as well, albeit generic. The group even teamed up with producer Brian McTernan, whose work behind the boards is definitely something to write home about, and the production on Waiting Room is equally glossy.

Since the release of its 2002 EP From the Depths of Dreams Senses Fail has yet to progress lyrically. Nielson still writes with the same childish metaphors and imagery that has graced every past release in Senses Fail's discography. In "Garden State," the lyrics "There will be a riot in my heart soon / It wants to beat beneath the open sky" seem to be derived from a 15-year-old's LiveJournal.

Vocally, Nielson is proof that anyone can become a singer. As a 24-year-old, his vocals lack the depth and range that would validate a good singer. Because talent is generally lost with Nielson, it would be in the group's best interest to find a frontman who doesn't hold the band back from reaching its potential.

In short, if you can manage to make it through Life is Not a Waiting Room without a cringe or even mild to heavy laughter, then this is the album for you. Senses Fail brings absolutely nothing new to the table. Yes, they managed to progress once in their career, but the end product is still contrived and lacks any real substance. Overall, Senses Fail epitomizes what you should not be listening to.

Grade: F

yeaaaah. only reason a review for this exists is because of school.