BY SARAI KELLEY MOSS
A packed out house on a Thursday night, 500+ people singing their hearts away to Senses Fail as they began their final leg of tour in Mesa, Arizona.
Senses Fail is a post-hardcore/alternative rock band hailing from Ridgewood, New Jersey. The band was formed in 2001 and is made up of vocalist James “Buddy” Nielsen, guitarist Gavin Caswell, guitarist Jason Milbank, drummer Steve Carey, and bassist Greg Styliades. In their 21 years as a band, they have released eight studio albums, Let It Enfold You, Still Searching, Life Is Not a Waiting Room, The Fire, Renacer, Pull the Thorns from Your Heart, If There Is Light, It Will Find You, and Hell Is in Your Head. Along with two EPs, From the Depths of Dreams and In Your Absence and one live album, Joshua Tree.
Inspired by bands that Buddy grew to love when coming into the emo/hardcore scene like Thursday and Saves The Day, New Jersey’s Senses Fail employed a hard-hitting blend of hardcore, screamo, pop-punk, and metalcore in the early 2000’s. Starting their musical career playing any gig they could find from skate parks and clubs to churches, building a strong local fan front, they entered a studio and recorded their first release, From the Depths of Dreams, with a limited 300 copy run through ECA records in 2002. The band has remained a forefront for the post-hardcore scene since issuing their 2004 debut, Let It Enfold You.
The band took their musical influences of punk and hardcore and mixed them with poetry, emotion, literature, religion, eastern philosophy and spirituality to create their own sound and image. The name “Senses Fail” is derived from the Buddhist belief in Nirvana. Lead singer Nielsen explains, “In Buddhism, they believe that being alive is hell, and the only way to reach Nirvana is to ultimately have no attachments to anything. So, people go out and live in the middle of the woods and they don’t eat and don’t drink. They just meditate because they’ve reached such a high level where they’re not attached to love, relationships, or anything. And if you want to reach the highest level of being and see God, you have to have all your senses fail.“
Soul grasping breakdowns and harmonic melodies, lyrics are what mean the most to the band. The emotion expressed in these songs was cathartic in a way that an angry punk song can’t fulfill. It was a balance between heaviness and catchiness. They wanted lyrics that are organic, not just heard but can be felt, writing about interpersonal demons that reach out to see if anyone feels the same. Words that can have a real conversation, they are not your typical traditional hard-core band but milti-deminsional. Big sounds are what Senses Fail does best, so if you want a taste of that iconic early 2000’s hardcore sound, Senses Fail is the band to see!
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