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Senses Fail - Still Searching Album Cover

Senses Fail - Still Searching

Reviewed by
7.5
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
SENSES FAIL - Still Searching

In the August issue of Alternative Press, Senses Fail vocalist and lyricist Buddy Nielsen had this to say about his lyrics for the new album: “No violence; no blood; none of that stupid shit. I want to be as honest as possible. Most of the songs are about the past year of my life, when I had a mental breakdown – I basically went crazy.” These words hold true on the New Jersey quintet’s second album, Still Searching. Gone are the songs about chainsaws, digging up dead girlfriends, and his obsession with fire. Instead, Nielsen’s lyrics are self-reflective and open about his struggles with depression and alcohol. This is a nice change from the cliché-ridden lyrics from Let It Enfold You and instantly you can tell Senses Fail have grown up, which was helped by Midtown guitarist Heath Saraceno, who joined the band on tour and then played and influenced the sessions of Searching. Immediately, the musicianship, most notably the guitars, have improved tenfold, thus strengthening all thirteen songs. The effort still has some notable flaws, but that’s not to take away from how much this band has matured and improved over the course of 2 years.

Surprisingly, the album has some nice variety in songs, from the spacey intro of “The Rapture” to the industrial-like sound of “All The Best Cowboys.” The anticipated “Bonecrusher” doesn’t disappoint, as it is a raucous rocker that highlights Dan Trapp’s drumming and the improved guitar work. “Sick Or Sane” produces mixed results for me, as the chorus is quite obnoxious after a few listens, yet the guitar solo in the bridge is sweet and is what keeps bringing me back to this track. “Can’t Be Saved” is one of the catchiest songs of the year, as the guitar riff needles into your brain and never leaves, and the sing-along factor in the chorus is at an all time high. “Calling All Cars,” which is the first single, is reminiscent of a Taking Back Sunday song, while “Shark Attack” piledrives you into submission with bruising guitars and some nice drum work. The title track is one of the harder songs on the album, as Saraceno and Garrett Zablocki’s guitars crush through the song. Nielson sings about how he is losing grip on his life, and his improved screaming helps the cause. Sure, screaming for the most part never sounds pleasant, but he’s improved from the whiney bullshit scream on Enfold to a deeper growl here. “To All The Crowded Rooms” is another barnburner and uses the nice harmony of Saraceno’s vocals to compliment the chorus. “Lost And Found” is my least favorite track, as it kills the vibe of the album. I can respect them trying something different, but it just doesn’t hold my attention. “Every Day Is A Struggle” picks up the pace, as it barrel rolls into your chest with drums at a breakneck speed and dueling guitars. Again, Nielsen tackles past demons in the form of a girl. “Negative Space” is a gentle, atmospheric intro track that continues on into the closer “The Priest And The Matador.” “Priest” is easily the best song Senses Fail has ever written, as the music is equally melodic as it is heavy. Nielsen's vocals are at an all time best here. "Matador" is the highlight of the album and closes the album in fine fashion.

The two things that always come up in any Senses Fail discussion are Nielsen’s lyrics and vocals. While neither are amazing, they have improved dramatically. At least Nielsen has taken the right direction in his writing, dropping the violent lyrics shtick, as it is outplayed and quite annoying. The honest, opened up approach in his lyrics works well for him, although I feel he is one more album away from reaching his peak in writing, as his lyrics are hit and miss throughout Searching. Vocally, he is improved some, but let’s face it, the vocals are never going to be the strong point of a Senses Fail album. The best thing is for Nielsen just to focus on the strengths of his voice and downplay the weaknesses, which I think he does an admirable job here. In the end, the vocals and lyrics have improved, yet they still could use some tweaking.

Still Searching is an interesting album. To me, it’s like listening to a new band, that’s how much I think they’ve improved. Their previous EP and album did nothing for me, in fact, I think they are pretty terrible. So, take notice in the fact that I’m not some Senses Fail fanboy blowing smoke up your ass about this album, I honestly think it’s one of the most surprising albums of 2006 and Senses Fail are one of the more improved bands this year. The musicianship on this album is what sold me, Heath Saraceno is the MVP on this album, which is not the take away from the other members of the band, but his influence is evident on this release. Overall, this album is going to do it for those on the fence with this band, as I believe it’ll change some minds. Still Searching is quite the improvement, and while it leaves some to be desired, it shows that Senses Fail are on the right path to fully discovering themselves.

Additional InformationTracklisting:
1. The Rapture
2. Bonecrusher
3. Sick Or Sane
4. Can’t Be Saved
5. Calling All Cars
6. Shark Attack
7. Still Searching
8. To All The Crowded Rooms
9. Lost And Found
10. Every Day Is A Struggle
11. All The Best Cowboys
12. Negative Space
13. The Priest And The Matador
Produced by Brian McTernan

Senses Fail are:
Buddy Nielsen : Vocals
Garrett Zablocki : Guitar
Heath Saraceno : Guitar
Mike Glita : Bass
Dan Trapp : Drums

Release Date: October 10, 2006
Record Label: Vagrant Records
Official Website; Official Myspace
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 131
12:06 AM on 09/27/06
#2
lightcollapse
on the edge of summer
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low score for the review, but well written
12:14 AM on 09/27/06
#3
Jason Tate
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Guess we sent this to the right person to review it.
12:15 AM on 09/27/06
#4
Drew Beringer
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Guess we sent this to the right person to review it.

lol bring it on, I'm ready for all the criticism. I wouldn;t have requested it if I didn't have an interest in it.
12:17 AM on 09/27/06
#5
Jason Tate
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lol bring it on, I'm ready for all the criticism. I wouldn;t have requested it if I didn't have an interest in it.
No criticism; if you like it you like it.

Hell, I'm listening to Quietdrive right now which I'm sure you'd absolutely hate.
12:17 AM on 09/27/06
#6
Drew Beringer
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No criticism; if you like it you like it.

Hell, I'm listening to Quietdrive right now which I'm sure you'd absolutely hate.

I do hate Quietdrive. But for the most part, Jason, we see eye to eye on most bands, amirite?
12:20 AM on 09/27/06
#7
Jason Tate
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I do hate Quietdrive. But for the most part, Jason, we see eye to eye on most bands, amirite?
FBTMOF, The Killers, Senses Fail, Forgive Durden, This Providence, Gatsbys, Saosin, and apparently Quietdrive.

I think are the ones off the top of my head we don't agree on...

(QD is good pop with solid vocals, more my style than SF.)
12:27 AM on 09/27/06
#8
moises_naruto
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this album is horrible, one of the worst of the year.. you were quite generous with the ratings... it makes sense, you've been postin everywhere how excited you were about the new SF songs.... but i guess it didnt live up to what you expected, and you called them the most improved....


i admire tate for warnin kids not to listen to this shit.....
12:32 AM on 09/27/06
#9
Drew Beringer
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FBTMOF, The Killers, Senses Fail, Forgive Durden, This Providence, Gatsbys, Saosin, and apparently Quietdrive.

I think are the ones off the top of my head we don't agree on...

(QD is good pop with solid vocals, more my style than SF.)
hmm, didn't like FBTMOF, I can see that. I would rate TP, FD, and GAD all the same, all somewhere in the mid to low 70s. Saosin would be a mid 70s for me, and QD is well, yeah, not my style. haha
this album is horrible, one of the worst of the year.. you were quite generous with the ratings... it makes sense, you've been postin everywhere how excited you were about the new SF songs.... but i guess it didnt live up to what you expected, and you called them the most improved....


i admire tate for warnin kids not to listen to this shit.....

Excited? I've just said they are the most improved bands of the year and for kids to give them a chance, I wasn;t making any proclaimations about how great it was or how groundbreaking it is or how many lists it's going to top. You are just set on trying to bring me down.
12:40 AM on 09/27/06
Jason Tate
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hmm, didn't like FBTMOF, I can see that. I would rate TP, FD, and GAD all the same, all somewhere in the mid to low 70s. Saosin would be a mid 70s for me, and QD is well, yeah, not my style. haha


Excited? I've just said they are the most improved bands of the year and for kids to give them a chance, I wasn;t making any proclaimations about how great it was or how groundbreaking it is or how many lists it's going to top. You are just set on trying to bring me down.
I'll bring you down ... down to chinatown!



I just figured out how to make the PM's work how I wanted to - so I'm doing a little dance.
12:43 AM on 09/27/06
Drew Beringer
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I'll bring you down ... down to chinatown!



I just figured out how to make the PM's work how I wanted to - so I'm doing a little dance.

Hahaha, yes, I have claimed that smiley my smiley, since I'm way too fuckin happy all the time.
12:43 AM on 09/27/06
moises_naruto
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dont you mean one of the most overproduced, and unoriginal bands of the year? kids don't need to give them a chance, they already love them, they love genric crap

i was browsing through a poll, about which album was better: saosin or senses fail, and i was pissed how the kids say this is a better album.....
12:46 AM on 09/27/06
Drew Beringer
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dont you mean one of the most overproduced, and unoriginal bands of the year? kids don't need to give them a chance, they already love them, they love genric crap

i was browsing through a poll, about which album was better: saosin or senses fail, and i was pissed how the kids say this is a better album.....

I don't feel it was overproduced, and there are way more kids here who hate them than love them. And if you want to talk about overproduced, we can talk Saosin. I really don't like the production on that,and that is what kills me the most on it, probably cause I don't like Benson.
12:49 AM on 09/27/06
Jason Tate
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Hahaha, yes, I have claimed that smiley my smiley, since I'm way too fuckin happy all the time.

Yes, yes, you are.

dont you mean one of the most overproduced, and unoriginal bands of the year? kids don't need to give them a chance, they already love them, they love genric crap

i was browsing through a poll, about which album was better: saosin or senses fail, and i was pissed how the kids say this is a better album.....

I was quite upset at that poll too.

I don't feel it was overproduced, and there are way more kids here who hate them than love them. And if you want to talk about overproduced, we can talk Saosin. I really don't like the production on that,and that is what kills me the most on it, probably cause I don't like Benson.

Beau did most of the production, Benson focused on the vocals. It's all in our interview and on the DVD (which I recommend getting).

Quote:
So let’s switch gears here for a second. How was working with Howard Benson? Did you ever think you’d be linking up with such a big-name producer for your debut?

Beau
: We kind of go into it on this “making of” DVD that we recorded, but as soon as we started talking to Capitol about who we wanted to record with, at first, I wanted it to be me, and collaborate with someone else. But after I while we needed to bring in an outside ear on stuff.
Cove: We needed a referee.
Beau: We were all hating each other and stuff.
Justin: And Cove was the new guy in the band. He needed some guidance, and we couldn’t really give it to him. I think in the long run, Howard pulled some shit out of him he could have never done himself.
Cove: I definitely worked with Howard the most on the record. He’s a vocal guy, you know?
Justin: And we talked to some other big name guys like Ross Robinson and guys like that.
Cove: When Capitol brought up Howard Benson, we were like no way. Just based off the records he has done in the past like Hoobastank, All American Rejects, and cheesy pop bands like that. We thought he was going to steal everything out of our music.


I was worried about that too. I wondered if it was going to be crunchy, pop-rock sounding crap, but really, I am surprised how consistent it sounds with the production Beau did.


Justin: There were a couple things that he really had an opinion on, but those were really only at the point where the vocals weren’t done. So if there was a part with a shredding guitar riff, and the vocal was better, we might bring it back a bit. But for the most part, the music was done and he wasn’t really there. We just went in there and got to do our own thing.
Beau: That was actually pretty cool, because we could go in there and shred and play around and we didn’t have to worry about him breathing down our necks and stuff like that.
Cove: It was so sweet working with him, though.
12:55 AM on 09/27/06
Drew Beringer
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Yes, yes, you are.



I was quite upset at that poll too.



Beau did most of the production, Benson focused on the vocals. It's all in our interview and on the DVD (which I recommend getting).

Yeah, I should have clarified about what part of production I meant. I think the music is great on Saosin, vocals bother me a little in some songs, I wish Benson didn't have anything to do with it, but whatever, for the record I like the Saosin record more, I just wanted to have some fun with that poll, which I accomplished.

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