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Pull the Thorns from Your Heart

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Album Review

Maintaining any sort of consistency is always a challenge for a band, but when you've had the kind of revolving-door lineup that New Jersey post-hardcore unit Senses Fail has had, it becomes especially tough. Originally formed in 2002, the Senses Fail of 2015 is led by singer James "Buddy" Nielsen, the band's sole original member, who continues to keep the home fires burning on their sixth LP, Pull the Thorns from Your Heart. With a new label deal in place, the band begin their tenure at Pure Noise with a surprisingly diverse effort. Some tracks, like album-opener "The Three Marks of Existence" and "The Courage of an Open Heart," are among the heavier tracks they've ever done, with massive 62-string gauge riffs that are practically heart-seizing. Along with the heavier material, though, are a number of more exploratory songs, like the slow, dreamy "Surrender," which favors rich harmonies and gauzy guitar swells over an aggro thump. The two-part album standout "Carry the Weight" also dips in and out of hazy shoegaze textures, showing off Nielsen's vocal range as he confronts his past in order to reach a place of love and compassion. Thematically, much of Pull the Thorns from Your Heart plays out like the tell-all interview Nielsen gave on a 2014 episode of the 100 Words or Less podcast, where he opened up about his battles with alcoholism, his sexuality, and his spirituality. With that kind of emotional resonance tied up in the music there's often a risk of becoming almost evangelistic, but that's not the case here. Nielsen is on a path of recovery, but his frequent references to Buddhism and the album's overall positive tone are more a reflection of his own journey than an imposition of his beliefs on either the band or its fans. Above all, it makes for one of the most musically interesting albums of their career and a welcome change of tone for a veteran band who could probably have continued to rest on their laurels.

Customer Reviews


I've enjoyed a couple of the songs so far. I do miss the old senses fail but I understand that people and the way they view themselves and their music is going to change. I will buy this album and jam to it no doubt. But nothing will ever replace jamming to the end of bite to break skin. Keep it up guys.

Fave band

They've evolved and progressed so much, but Buddy's lyrics are still just as fantastic.

Hands Down, Flawless.

Buddy hit one out of the park with Pull The Thorns From Your Heart. While there are occasional mild hints of The Fire and Renacer, this is surely it's own album and has an assault of new sounds making it genre-bending (or creating?). Buddy's voice, whether singing or being more aggressive, is better than ever. The music is guttural and melodic. There are almost epic life soundtracks like Surrender and Pull the Thorns from Your Heart. It isn't at all repetitive and has no filler. A must listen for all Senses Fail fans, and most true music fans.


Formed: 2002 in Ridgewood, NJ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Led by vocalist James "Buddy" Nielsen, the sole constant through the band's long and eventful career, New Jersey outfit Senses Fail developed a slick amalgam of post-hardcore chuggery and emo heartbreak that recalled fellow New Jersey-based group Saves the Day. Formed in 2002 in Bergen County, with lead singer Nielsen, guitarists Dave Miller and Garrett Zablocki, bassist James Gill, and drummer Dan Trapp, Senses Fail quickly issued a debut EP and began gigging regularly while maintaining a thriving...
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