Our top 10 Senses Fail songs list looks at the catalog of an American band that rose to prominence in the emo post-hardcore scene of the early 2000s. Formed in the early 2000s, Senses Fail has remained in the mainstream limelight often distinguishing itself with its hard-hitting (yet luscious) blend of post-hardcore, emo, pop punk, screamo, and metalcore sound influences. Other remarkable emo post-hardcore bands that flourished in the early 2000s include Taking Back Sunday, Thrice, My Chemical Romance, Alexisonfire, Brand New, and The Used, to name a few. Senses Fail has seen its impact in the emo post-hardcore scene endure thanks to its solid musicianship. The band prides itself on its eight studio albums and two extended plays released over the years, all of which have been critically acclaimed.
Senses Fail’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
Senses Fail’s formation was orchestrated by its lead vocalist James “Buddy” Nielsen who teamed up with guitarists Garrett Zablocki and Dave Miller, drummer Dan Trapp, and bassist James Gill. In August 2002, the band went on to issue its debut extended play From the Depths of Dreams. The EP was issued through ECA Records with the band giving its fans a taste of its post-hardcore, screamo, and emo sounds blend. Additional personnel in the band’s lineup for this album was bassist Mike Glita, who also delivered backing screamed vocals to the band’s records till 2008.
From the Depths of Dreams was an instant mainstream success rising to the fourth spot on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart. The EP also made it to the Billboard 200 rising to number one hundred and forty-four. “Bloody Romance,” “Steven,” and “One Eight Seven” are some of the best Senses Fail songs from the EP. From the Depths of Dreams ushered in Senses Fail to success, motivating the band to issue more releases.
Senses Fail’s Album Releases over the Years
In 2004, Senses Fail went on to issue its debut studio album Let It Enfold You through Vagrant Records. The album was primarily an emo/screamo record with Steve Evetts tasked with its production work. Other artists who have worked with Steve Evetts include Saves the Day, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Every Time I Die, Sepultura, and Our Last Night. Let It Enfold You was a mainstream success rising to the second position on the Billboard Independent Albums Chart.
The album also made it to the thirty-fourth on the Billboard 200. Let It Enfold You was also a commercial success earning a gold certification in the US. “Buried a Lie,” “Bite to Break Skin,” “The Irony of Dying on Your Birthday,” “Lady in a Blue Dress, and “Rum is for Drinking, Not for Burning” are the top musical gems from the band’s debut album Let It Enfold You.
Senses Fail returned in 2006 with its sophomore studio album Still Searching. With Still Searching, the band gave its fans a blend of post-hardcore, emo, and screamo sound influences. While the band still issued the album through Vagrant Records, the band tasked Brian McTernan with the production work on this album. As a musician, Brian McTernan is renowned for his impactful role in the success of the hardcore punk bands Battery and Be Well.
Still Searching was a mainstream success, rising to the second spot on the Billboard Independent Albums Chart. The album also made it to the seventh spot on the Billboard Top Rock Albums Chart, gracing the Billboard 200 at number fifteen. “Can’t Be Saved,” “Calling All Cars,” and “The Priest and the Matador” are some of the best Senses Fail songs from the album Still Searching.
In 2008, the band returned with its third studio album Life is Not a Waiting Room, issued through Vagrant Records. The band retained Brian McTernan as the producer on this record. However, a major change to the lineup was witnessed following the departure of bassist Mike Glita. His position would be taken up by Jason Black of the punk rock band Hot Water Music.
Life is Not a Waiting Room was the first chart-topping album having risen atop the Billboard Independent Albums Chart in 2008. The album also graced the Billboard Top Alternative Albums Chart and Billboard Top Rock Albums Chart, rising to the fifth and sixth spots, respectively. Life is Not a Waiting Room also made it to the Billboard 200, peaking at the eighteenth spot. “Family Tradition,” “Garden State,” “Yellow Angels,” and “Lungs Like Gallows” are the most popular songs by Senses Fail from the album.
Senses Fail issued its fourth studio album The Fire in 2010 through Vagrant Records while maintaining its relationship with Brian McTernan as the producer. Unfortunately, this was the band’s last album with guitarist Garret Zablocki as a member of the band. The Fire was a mainstream success, rising to position thirty-two on the Billboard 200. “Lifeboats,” “New Year’s Eve,” and the album title track are the top musical gems from the LP.
In 2013, Senses Fail went ahead to issue its fifth studio album Renacer, a Spanish title that translates to ‘to be reborn.” And truly, the band’s pursuits evidenced some rebirth in its sound exploring some metalcore and melodic hardcore influences. The album also saw Senses Fail join acts like Corrupted, Crowbar, Eyehategod, and Neurosis in the list of bands whose records have been tinged with sludge metal influences. Senses Fail welcomed Matt Smith of Strike Anywhere to fill in Garrett’s void on this record.
Renacer saw the band work with musician Shaun Lopez as the producer. Shaun has worked as a producer with other rock bands including Whitechapel, Demon Hunter, Dead Sara, Deftones, and The Black Pacific. Renacer made it to the Billboard 200, rising to number eighty-four. “Mi Amor,” “Between the Mountains and the Sea,” “The Path,” and the album title track are some of the best Senses Fail songs from the album.
Pull the Thorns from Your Heart, issued in April 2015 through Pure Noise Records, marked the band’s sixth studio album. The album saw the band reunite with Shaun Lopez in production. In this record, Senses Fail explored a blend of metalcore, heavy hardcore, and hardcore punk sounds. “Carry the Weight,” “The Courage of An Open Heart,” “Wounds,” and “The Importance of the Moment of Death” are some of the most popular songs by Senses Fail from the album.
Senses Fail went ahead to issue its seventh studio album If There Is Light, It Will Find You through Pure Noise Records. The album saw the band return to its staple screamo and post-hardcore sounds with tinges of punk rock and pop punk influences. This time, Senses Fail worked with Beau Burchell (affiliated with Saosin, As Hope Dies, Open Hand, and Kosmos Express) as the producer of the album. “Double Cross,” Elevator to the Gallows,” “New Jersey Makes, the World Takes,” and “Gold Jacket, Green Jacket…” are the best Senses Fail songs from the album.
In July 2022, Senses Fail issued its eighth and most recent studio album Hell is in Your Head. The album was also issued through Pure Noise Records with the band renewing its commitments with Beau Burchell as the producer of this record. “Death by Water,” “End of the World/A Game of Chess,” and “I’m Sorry I’m Leaving” are some of the best Senses Fail songs from the album Hell is in Your Head.
Senses Fail’s Other Musical Pursuits and Legacy
Over the years, Senses Fail has made its mark in the emo post-hardcore scene, achieving mainstream success and considerable commercial success. While emo post-hardcore remains Senses Fail’s mainstay, the band has ventured into other sounds including metalcore, pop punk, and screamo. The band has sculpted its success through solid musicianship with its members not afraid to cite artists/acts such as Deftones, Saves the Day, Jimmy Eat World, and The Get Up Kids as some of its influences.
#10- End of the World/A Game of Chess ft. Connie Sgarbossa
Ushering us to the ten best Senses Fail songs list is the ferocious hit “End of the World/A Game of Chess.” The song is featured on the band’s most recent album Hell is in Your Head. “End of the World/A Game of Chess” finds the band teaming up with Connie Sgarbossa of the hardcore band SeeYourSpaceCowboy. Like most of the songs from the album, “End of the World/A Game of Chess” issues us with some of the deep and contemplative lyrical approaches by the band.
This song is born out of Nielsen’s contemplation about the struggle of growing up in a ‘messed-up’ world having him go deeper into meditations about his own humanity. However, some of the lyrics in this song showcase Nielsen’s possible comfort in the harsh nature of the world.
#9- Lady in a Blue Dress
“Lady in a Blue Dress” is one of the most sought-after tracks by Senses Fail from the band’s debut studio album Let It Enfold You. While most of the songs on this record showcase the band’s excellence with emo influences, “Lady in a Blue Dress” brings some rare but inspirational arena rock sound. The song’s lyrics find the singer crooning about the changed traits of a loved one—Nielsen cites the loss of self-respect as one of the notable changes by the subject lady.
While “Lady in a Blue Dress” managed to grace our top ten Senses Fail songs list, it received quite some competition from hits like “Irony of Dying on Your Birthday” and “Let It Enfold You,” which didn’t make it to the list. The song was covered by the rock band Sparrow Sleeps in 2015. “Lady in a Blue Dress” was sampled in “November” by Brennan Savage and “Devil in a Blue Dress” by The Legion of Doom.
#8- Family Tradition
Coming in at number eight on our ten best Senses Fail songs list is the magnificent hit “Family Tradition.” The song is featured on the band’s third studio album Life is Not a Waiting Room. “Family Tradition” was issued as the lead single to the album. The song features an emotive vocal delivery from lead vocalist Buddy Nielsen.
Joining him in the vocals are Heath Saraceno and Garrett Zablocki, with the trio crooning together in the chorus of this hit. Saraceno and Zablocki also showcase solid musicianship with their awe-inspiring guitar riffs and solos. This emotive has its lyrics alluding to Nielsen’s reaction to living up to other people’s expectations while following the footsteps of a family associate he barely knows since it’s the “Family Tradition.”
#7- Gold Jacket, Green Jacket…
“Gold Jacket, Green Jacket…” is one of the fan-favorite tracks by the band’s seventh studio album If There is Light, It Will Find You. The song has its title inspired by a phrase mentioned by a character in the 1996 sports comedy film Happy Gilmore. “Gold Jacket, Green Jacket…” has been cited to be Senses Fail’s ode to social criticism about what was really happening in the world.
Vocalist Nielsen revealed that “Gold Jacket, Green Jacket…” has its structure inspired by the hit “Mall of America” by the punk rock band Desaparecidos. Nielsen continued to reveal that by issuing “Gold Jacket, Green Jacket…,” Senses Fail aimed at delivering a song that gives a short summary of the current generation, just like the 1991 hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.
#6- Bloody Romance
Number six on our ten best Senses Fail songs list is the charming hit “Bloody Romance.” The song is by far the most impressive hit off the band’s debut extended play From the Depths of Dreams. While it starts with quite a slow yet alluring intro, “Bloody Romance” becomes heavy and hard-hitting slightly after twenty seconds! It is songs like “Bloody Romance” that stamped Senses Fail as an auspicious emo post-hardcore act thanks to the solid musicianship exhibited by the band members.
#5- Mi Amor
Without a doubt, Renacer, the band’s fifth studio album, is one of the heaviest records ever issued by Senses Fail, thanks to the primary exploration of metalcore and sludge metal influences. “Mi Amor” is enough evidence of the Renacer’s heaviness and the album’s awe-inspiring nature. While the song oozes the album’s signature heaviness, it manages to feature some tunefulness thanks to the melodic hardcore influences featured sporadically in the album.
“Mi Amor” combines both English and Spanish lyrics with Buddy Nielsen revealing that it was Senses Fail’s wish to do a song in Spanish. Renacer proved to be the perfect album to do all sorts of experimentation with the sound and also, lyrical delivery in a different language. The gamble paid off with “Mi Amor” ranking high among the fan-favorite tracks by Senses Fail.
#4- Bite to Break Skin
“Bite to Break Skin” is yet another impressive hit off the band’s debut studio album Let It Enfold You. The song has been compared by critics to the band’s hit “Bloody Romance” from the EP From the Depths of Dreams. “Bite to Break Skin” feels like the perfect bridge from the band’s debut EP to Senses Fail’s debut studio album.
The screamo influences in this song echo so loud not to be noticed! “Bite to Break Skin” follows the band’s template for the debut studio album, which include striking vocal melodies, imposing guitar riffs, and intermittent heavy bass lines and drum beats “Bite to Break Skin” was remixed by The Legion of Doom in 2006.
#3- Calling All Cars
The third song on our ten best Senses Fail songs list is the dazzling hit “Calling All Cars.” “Calling All Cars” was issued as the lead single off the band’s sophomore studio album Still Searching. The song has its lyrics allude to Nielsen’s move to give up on love owing to his streak of bad relationships. His move to end this relationship beforehand is motivated by the fact that he wishes to avoid getting hurt once more. “Calling All Cars” was among the first songs to feature former Midtown member Heath Saraceno on the guitars following the departure of Dave Miller from Senses Fail’s lineup.
#2- Buried a Lie
“Buried a Lie” is by far the emblematic hit of Senses Fail’s solid musicianship in the debut studio album Let It Enfold You. Issued on February 8, 2005, serves as the lead single off the band’s debut LP. The song is one of the most pop-oriented hits ever issued by Senses Fail, making it among the most radio-ready hits by the band.
Buddy Nielsen revealed that “Buried a Lie” was penned with the intention of telling a story in this context, a murder mystery. This showcased Nielsen’s love for crime shows as revealed in the same interview. The song was among the concert staples at Senses Fail’s performances on tours that followed in late 2005 and early 2006. “Buried a Lie” was sampled in the 2007 hit “I Know What You Buried Last Summer” by The Legion of Doom.
#1- Can’t Be Saved
Number one on our ten best Senses Fail songs is the alluring hit “Can’t Be Saved.” The song is featured on the band’s sophomore studio album Still Searching. Still Searching was a concept album with the lyrics of its thirteen songs transcending the themes of depression, faith, as well as heartbreak. “Can’t Be Saved” has its lyrics exclusively showcasing the singer’s struggles with faith. The song is primarily emo with tinges of post-hardcore influences. “Can’t Be Saved” is the best-selling hit by Senses Fail earning a gold certification in the US. The song is featured in the games Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and Tap Tap Revenge 2.
Top 10 Senses Fail Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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