Hell Is In Your Head

Pure Noise
rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. The Burial Of The Dead
02. End Of The World / A Game Of Chess
03. The Fire Sermon
04. I Am Error
05. Death By Water
06. What The Thunder Said
07. Miles To Go
08. Lush Rimbaugh
09. Hell Is In Your Head
10. I'm Sorry I'm Leaving
11. Grow Away From Me

It's difficult to make heads or tails of SENSES FAIL's eighth full-length. Dotted with references to T.S. Elliot and Robert Frost, "Hell Is In Your Head" touches on death and existential dread on individual and global scales. Subject matter ranges from personal loss to the cataclysmic consequences of climate change. Major and minor keys — and similarly, positive and negative sentiments — collide in odd ways, creating a somewhat confused feeling. It's like we're inside singer/songwriter Buddy Nielsen's head, which is swirling with the odds and ends of ideas and emotions. It's a reflection of not only the album's title, but the fact that this is the first record he's written solo.

Hardcore reminiscent of 2015's "Pull The Thorns From Your Heart" peppers songs that are mainly anchored in emo/alternative rock. SEEYOUSPACECOWBOY's vocalist Connie Sgarbossa also brings a taste of screamo to "End Of The World / A Game Of Chess". But it's the first track, which features almost no aggression, that is arguably the most profound. The words "We only have so much time left" echo powerfully as the main theme of this release. And while "Hell Is In Your Head" sees the writer troubled and suffering in many instances, there are also waves of calm that arrive in the form of soothing choruses, like the refrain, "Only love will save us" in "I Am Error".

Lyrically, the band has always put forward a unique brand of blunt honesty speckled with moments of poetry. On this album, Nielsen's lyrics are so frank that they sometimes sound strange in song form, such as, "I've been reading my horoscope" ("Death By Water") and "The polar bears are dying" ("Miles To Go"). In many ways, these songs come across more like diary entries.

And perhaps, that is the best way to experience this record: as a way of getting to know the artist better. Maybe that's not enough to make this an excellent record, but it is enough to make it an interesting one.

Author: Taylor Markarian
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