Life Is Not a Waiting Room is not Senses Fail’s only Top 5 album. Now, when I say Top 5, I am basing it solely on what other albums were released that year. In my honest opinion, Let It Enfold You and Still Searching were both equally impressive when compared to what the rest of their respective years had to offer. Follow?
So, the next thing to figure out is how to stack this record up to the rest of Senses Fail’s discography.
First thing’s first – we need to cut out one of the three. Still Searching was really the start of their new sound. They eliminated most of the emo/screamo bits that so heavily defined them beforehand, and for that reason it makes the 2006 release all the more impressive. Don’t get me wrong, there were still influences there that remained constant from their earlier days, but the change in direction was definitely for the better. More impressively was the increased reliance on drummer Dan Trapp. His performance from that point forward really catapulted the band and their sound. All things considered, Let it Enfold You was the band’s breakout album, yes, but the change in direction (lyrically, but mostly, musically) really transformed the band.
That leaves us with two, then. Listening to each on repeat, it is rather amusing to hear the haunting similarities between the 2006/2008 releases. The calm, almost breezy opener (“The Rapture”/“Fireworks at Dawn”) which sets the stage for the aggression that is about to bombard the listener, which almost immediately gives way to said aggression in track #2 (“Lungs Like Gallows”/“Bonecrusher”) – literally, identical.
The next bit of both records is a bit of a flip-flop (not like a sandal). Tracks 3-5 on Life Is Not a Waiting Room are inversely similar to tracks 3-5 on Still Searching. Think of it this way: “Garden State” equals “Calling All Cars” (3, 5) – “Family Tradition” equals “Can’t Be Saved” (4, 4) – “Wolves at the Door” equals “Sick or Sane” (5, 3). The styles, vocal pieces and even the drums can be laid out on top of the album’s predecessor, without much difference. Is that necessarily a bad thing? No, but it does make grading each versus the other extremely difficult.
Moving on – the final tracks could be jumbled together and tossed between records, much like the first five tracks, and honestly I may or may not notice. When listening to the band on random, certain songs will pop up and I will sometimes have to double check the album art to see which record it derives from – again, bad thing? No way!
My final note is track 9 (on each record, of course – follow the theme people!), which showcases vocalist Buddy Nielsen at his most delicate and sincere. Both songs are soft and beautiful, which is a noted break from the rest of each album’s aggressive layout. While I prefer “Yellow Angels” (Waiting Room) to “Lost and Found” (Still Searching), the records as a whole are far too similar and striking to waiver in rank. Having said that, each are an easy 9 in my mind, while the aforementioned Let It Enfold You would score an 8-8.5.
While 2010’s The Fire was a burning disappointment in my eyes, my hopes remain high that Renacer will once again show us why Senses Fail will forever be known as one of the most consistent forces in the post-2000 music world.