What happens when an emo band hits their prime in the early 2000’s and then falls off the face of the earth for three years? A hardcore record is released. Senses Fail have nothing to prove and no one to impress. Renacer is one of the heaviest albums of 2013, leaving only minor traces of the Senses Fail we all know and love. The band has introduced their new brand of melodic hardcore, completely reinventing their sound, songwriting, and execution.
The title track, “Renacer,” opens the album with fury. It does exactly what an opener should do – set the tone for the rest of the album. The track begins with a sludgy, distorted de-tuned guitar as vocalist Buddy Nielsen showcases his new thrashy screaming vocal style. Within about 40 seconds, the song changes pace and molds into a vicious hardcore punk song with epic breakdowns and quotable lyrics such as, “When you look in the mirror, are you afraid of what you see?” The song also displays brief melodic moments that recur throughout the entire album.
“Mi Amor” is one of the heaviest songs on the album, sung almost entirely in Spanish. Interestingly enough, the album title, Renacer, is also in Spanish, translating to “to be reborn.” Makes sense. This track is unlikely to be a fan favorite, but props to Senses Fail for going outside the box and being creative with their new experimental and revived sound.
By contrast, “Closure/Rebirth” opens with a complete rip-off of a guitar riff from Silverstein’s “Bleeds No More,” making it hard to take the song seriously without thinking of Silverstein. Aside from its lack of authenticity, it also lacks interest and depth. It features the same ol’ chugging riffs and ambient melodic refrains and definitely starts to get monotonous after a while. Thankfully, “The Path” is a nice change of pace, beginning with overly-distorted bass and the squelching lyric, “Look in the basement of your heart / There is a light that just went dark,” which is bound to appear of the back of a Senses Fail t-shirt at some point. Toward the end of the song is a refrain in which we hear Neilson’s angelic clean vocals. It was nice to hear remnants of older albums like Still Searching contrasting with the reincarnated, heavier alter ego we call Renacer.
“Glass” shines on Senses Fail’s obvious Deftones influence. As a matter of fact, Renacer was produced by Shaun Lopez, who also produced Deftones’ Saturday Night Wrist and Diamond Eyes. This track has some interesting mysterious undertones that burst into heavy hardcore out of left field – definitely not one that should not be overlooked. The album ends with a long, dragged-out ambient tune, “Between The Mountains And The Sea.” This song, although a fine cathartic finish to an intense album, will not be remembered too much – it slowly drags multiple verses of clean delayed guitars and whiny vocals before erupting into a heavy climax that is far too predictable.
The aptly-titled Renacer is most certainly a rebirth for Senses Fail, giving metal, hardcore, and punk fans a new respect for the band. This release was a smart move for a band that had been away for three years – old fans will embrace the reinvention, and new fans will emerge. Senses Fail are sure to reap the benefits of writing an honest and passionate record with no frills.