WORDS: ROB KENT
The year is 2002; eighteen-year-old Buddy Neilson posts an advertisement on the internet with the sole intention of forming a band. Four likeminded individuals resounded and with a common vision, Senses Fail was born. That same year the band released their debut release ‘From The Depth Of Dreams’, immediately paving the way for the band to gain national attention. These five teenagers landed the 144 spot on the Billboard 200 with eight songs that combined a fresh post-hardcore sound, taking classic emo from the 90’s and blending with it a combination of screamo and pop punk. Senses Fail made an impact that set them aside from the get go. Seventeen years later, the band have now re-recorded the EP with the bands current label, Pure Noise Records, re-releasing it, showing just how timeless the content is, displaying it for new fans and giving it a new lease of life for old.
Drenched in energy and passion these tracks were everything post university adults and teenagers needed to spark excitement in an entirely new wave of music. Keeping the raw D.I.Y ethic in song writing and performing, but adding elements of big choruses and catchy hooks, Senses Fail were on top of the underground scene. Drawing people who wanted the raw energy and passionate aggression of a hardcore show, but the easy listing factor of pop punk, combined with Neilsons poetic and creative lyrics, Senses Fail stapled themselves into people’s headphones, providing the listener with passion, energy and a blend of everything that music should be, while also weaving their way in to a completely new standpoint; captivating a wide variety of audiences in to one atmosphere and showing how unique the music these five teenagers had produced was drawing people in from all angles.
“Drenched in energy and passion these tracks were everything post university adults and teenagers needed to spark excitement in an entirely new wave of music.”
At a time when post-hardcore had really began to take off and bands such as Thursday and Glassjaw were gaining great attention and holding the front of the scene in the north east of America, Senses Fail were trailing their success but not approaching the music at the same angle. Unlike its competitors, From the Depths of Dreams offered elements that was much more accessible for people getting in to the heavier side of music. Allowing fans of early 2000’s pop punk to experience hardcore elements for the first time and combined with Neilsons poetic and ambitious lyrics, these tracks paved a way for a connection that many people had never felt, spawning a whole scene amongst itself for people to become a part of.
The accessibility of this release at the time is so important upon reflection. Making the transition in to listening to art that is more serious can never be a subtle one, Senses Fail offered music that was easy on the ear, catchy and full of energy. With the lyrical content containing much more serious themes and poetry throughout, it was the breath of fresh air that people needed to obtain an underground scene that took elements of music from the mainstream, which was so popular at the time, while combining with what made the original post hardcore movement so vibrant, offering a recipe that set the band aside and placing them on their own thrown. The music was not soft enough to be pop punk and not heavy enough to be a true a post hardcore release, it was a punk rock album that had some heavy elements with the perfect amount of emo influence to make these eight songs so unique setting the tone for a fresh and exciting beginning to a period of music.
“it is no surprise how seventeen years ago this band made an earthquake in underground music and shot to fame rapidly”
Opening track “Steven” sets the scene for everything the band was doing differently and invites us for a listening experience that is captivating and entertaining. Full of harmonious, driving guitars and we hear Neilsons lyrics for the first time shining through. Lines such as “The sun shined so brightly, the day we buried our friend” was just the beginning of what this, at the time, eighteen year old was capable of thought his career. Drawing fans in with his story telling and poetry, the band painted a picture with every song, giving listeners, for the first time, catchy accessible music that had serious lyrics content with some added aggression to fuel the fire felt when absorbing this record. It was songs like this that helped set the band aside from other emerging pop punk acts at the time, shot their first released to 144 on billboard and landed them a record deal. Neilsons song writing was much more literary minded than others and with the musical talent from the rest of the band, combined with rowdy and enthusiastic performances it is clear why Senses Fail set themselves a part very quickly.
The reverberations of the release were continuous as well. In 2002 Senses Fail were impossible to ignore, every band in the scene to come after and every revival of the sound have releases that have From the depths of dreams to thank. The interest in such a new take on music and combining so many influences at the time was so unique and with their debut release, Senses Fail opened the door for many bands to come. Closing song “One Eight Seven” summaries everything, with elements that truly show how ahead of their time Senses Fail were. With its anthemic emo lyrics, post hardcore guitars, powerhouse drumming and Neilsons distinctive voice and lyrics shining through, it is no surprise how seventeen years ago this band made an earthquake in underground music and shot to fame rapidly.
Now with a re-recording and release of the EP, it has given new life to the music and allowed the beginnings of the band to be appreciated once again by old fans and new. Giving evidence for the connection people have with the record, whether it made an impression in 2002 or 2019, these eight tracks speak volumes and summarise a time where five teenagers, who just wanted to play in their local scene, planted a seed that set the alternative music world on fire, carving their own piece of history.