After over 10 years of consistently putting out records, it’s clear that Senses Fail have matured from their earlier emo fueled sound in the early 2000s. Their newest album, Pull the Thorns From Your Heart, definitely takes influence from the resurgence popularity of metal infused hardcore, and it is working very well. Senses Fail makes a great, effortlessly heavy hardcore band, but their insistence on clinging to their screamo roots adds some seriously disappointing moments to an otherwise hard-hitting record.
Pull the Thorns From Your Heart comes tearing right through the gate with opener “The Three Marks of Existence,” preparing listeners for the hardcore assault to come. A lot of that momentum is lost by the second song though. Fans of Senses Fail will know that clean singing comes with their harder sound, but new listeners will definitely be thrown off guard by such a stark change in tone. Thankfully there is a lot of their harder sound on this record, with headbangers like “Take Refuge” providing some serious riffs — at least for the most part. It seems that Senses Fail does best when they slow down, play low and really let their doom-y side come out, like at the end of “Dying Words.” The album ends on quite a downer, considering the energetic note it starts on, with “My Fear of an Unlived Life,” reminding some listeners why they didn’t care about this band to begin with.
A word of advice to Senses Fail if they want to remain relevant in a scene producing exciting and innovative bands at every turn: keep your eye on which way the wind is blowing. Screamo has, for the most part, become an embarrassing memory, and emo has turned into pop punk. Go with your instincts to become a full of metal driven, riffy hardcore band. In 2005, Pull the Thorns From Your Heart would have been a notable and exciting record, maybe even influencing some younger emo bands to turn to a heavier style. But hardcore is full of bands doing better versions of this right now, and Senses Fail is going to have to pull out all the stops to stay interesting.