Senses Fail’s sixth studio album, Pull The Thorns From Your Heart, has generated some news since its early streaming. Simply put, my entire Twitter feed has been talking about it. This is the band’s first release since frontman Buddy Nielsen opened up about his sexuality, and, evidently, the writing is an honest look into his experiences and coming to terms with himself. Pull The Thorns From Your Heart is broken up into four parts, each of which is named after a Buddhist term. All the sections consist of three songs except for the coda, which only consists of two. Structurally, this is one of the most organized albums I have ever listened to, but that also makes it one of the most complex.
Part one is titled Anicca & Sacca, which stands for impermanence and truthfulness. The album opens up with the song “The Three Marks of Existence.” While this track is the shortest on the album, just under two minutes long, it is potentially the heaviest. It starts the record off fast, strong, and hard, which is something I think most fans were looking for. The album’s second song, “Carry The Weight,” talks about how all people face struggles in their lives. Some of these struggles may even be the same, but how they are dealt with differs from person to person. “I carried the weight in the only way I knew,” Buddy sings during the chorus. Having this line be in the first chorus really drives home the point that you cannot blame a person for how they deal with their personal issues. This track is personal and vulnerable, and it really gives insight into what Buddy, along with countless other individuals, went through and continues to go through. As a whole, this first chunk of the album represents the realization that you are who you are and that’s okay, which sums up the theme of honesty.
The next segment is called Tisarana, which represents the threefold refuge, or, in other words, the three things Buddhists take haven in. My favorite song in this section is “Surrender.” While it is mostly instrumental, it is the track that says the most. You can convey a lot through just the music, and I think it works so well here because “Surrender” is all about battling with yourself and trying to not go back to who you once were. It really paints a picture of how the biggest battles sometimes make the quietest noise.
Tisarana is followed by Maransati, mindfulness of death. The three songs in this part deal directly with the issue of love and how “no one should be judged for the people they love.” Although I love its purpose, overall, this section was not my favorite. While I do hear good elements in each song, I feel as though they don’t shine as brightly as others on the record. My first time listening, it almost seemed as though I had already heard these songs earlier on the album. Obviously, they are different tracks, but they didn’t have that something, musically or lyrically, that really made them stand out to me. Pull The Thorns From Your Heart is filled with heartbreaking lyrics and great breakdowns, but the songs in Maransati just get lost in the shuffle.
The final movement—and my favorite one—is Brahmaviharas, or The Heavenly Abodes, which talks about how people have to stop wasting time trying to figure out who they are, and instead focus on just being themselves. People are always changing, and they shouldn’t wait for a moment that feels right because they can end up missing their entire lives.
Ultimately, while it isn’t my record of the year, Pull The Thorns From Your Heart is a good album that contains some of the best lyrics the band has ever written. Senses Fail took a chance with some of the songs, and it is a testament to how much the guys really tried to experiment with their writing process this time around. The band wanted to give their listeners something that they could enjoy while also creating something they themselves would be proud of, and I’m glad to say I think they succeeded.
Review by Kelly Fadden