Medicated Muse

Named after an Asian spiritual concept of nothingness, Senses Fail formed at a time when vocalist Buddy Nielsen was immersed in reading about Eastern religions. These days, Nielsen's preoccupations still permeate the New Jersey band's music, a decidedly melodic but fast-paced, crunchy brand of punk that straddles pop and contains hints of emo, hardcore, and metal. New album Still Searching revisits Nielsen's recent experience with a debilitating panic disorder and the antidepressant medication he took for anxiety attacks. The subject matter suits the rush of the music perfectly and anchors it with a grave tone where the vocals might otherwise suffer from sugary, sing-along overkill. Additionally, though he favors a direct lyrical approach, Nielsen has the sense to go beyond his own personal feelings and imbues the songs with questions about being fulfilled and finding stability in a more general sense. This helps elevate the band above the self-pity so common among its peers. Nielsen has reported that few fans have discussed the new album's themes with him, but Senses Fail's irresistible (and seemingly endless) hooks provide a shame-free, communal vehicle for a stigmatized form of suffering that all too often occurs in silence.

Senses Fail plays Friday, March 9, as part of the Rockstar Taste of Chaos Tour with the Used, 30 Seconds to Mars, Evaline, Chiodos, Aiden, and Saosin at the Bank United Center, 1245 Dauer Dr., Coral Gables. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $28.50. Call 305-284-8686, or visit

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Saby Reyes-Kulkarni