I will always thank Drive-Thru Records for my love of music. Though I still listen to many of those influential bands, there are two groups that frequently fall off of my radar, only to resurface every few years as a new obsession before being put to the sidelines again: Senses Fail and Finch. It is because of these bands that I stumbled into a love of hardcore music. Speak The Truth… Even If Your Voice Shakes, the new(ish) supergroup consisting of members from both bands finds its inspiration from the golden era of emo and unabashedly flaunts it.
Speak The Truth consists of Senses Fail’s Buddy Neilsen on vocals while Alex Linares (guitars), Daniel Wonacott (bass) and Alex Pappas (drums) of Finch round out the instrumentation. Though both bands hail from a harder sound, Speak The Truth hits an odd mix of genres that somehow makes a cohesive sound.
While their singles remind me of the racing guitars of Anberlin (“Crash My Car”), or an emo band putting out their first record (“Everyone You Love Will Slip Away from You”), there is a maturity that channels the positive lyricism of modern pop punk (“The Upside Down”). The result is a record that toys with expectations, honors the legacy that helped get these musicians to where they are now and is a truly refreshing record about coping with the world around you.
While I admittedly haven’t followed either Senses Fail or Finch as closely as I would care to admit, I can say this – this is some of the most inspired music from Linares, Wonacott and Pappas that I have seen from their career. What could be brushed off as a “throw-back” pop punk record churns with luscious guitar rhythms and brutal drumming that seems to crop up just when you want it to. Though the album is significantly poppier than I expected, “Go for the Throat” is a pleasant surprise that sounds like a long lost track off of What It Is To Burn.
Neilsen is fantastic. I forget how much I love his vocals until I hear him, and Speak The Truth is no exception. While he relies mostly on clean vocals, his trademark screams find their spot on the record as well. Though scarce, the screams highlight the darker aspects of the songs while his clean vocals tackle the more hopeful spots (“The Upside Down”).
Everyone You Love Will Slip Away from You is a revival of modern emo. Though the album’s title and main theme revolve around the tragedies of life, the album focuses on handling it with poise and determination to come out on the other side as strong as possible. The idea of coping is a strength and Neilsen portrays it brutally.
On “The Upside Down”, Neilsen lays down a thesis for the album, singing, “Sometimes depression is the only thing reminding me that I feel alive/ And all the sadness could be more beautiful than all of the stars in the sky / I don’t wanna be afraid to be who I am / I don’t wanna be ashamed”.
During “Carpenter In Prison”, after describing the idea of being a shell of the person your younger self hoped to have been, he mixes clean vocals and microphone distorting screams of, “Save yourself / Cause there is nothing more / You gotta wade out into the water / You gotta wade out further / If you’re dying inside you gotta swim to the surface”.
Not everything is hopeful, though. “Mornings Mournings” is a unrelenting rage attack on someone. “Crash My Car” is a more traditional emo song, with a chorus of “I crash my car into a wall to bleed with you”. “Drowning on the Sidewalk or Dying Inside” finds Neilsen admitting, “I write better when I’m depressed and anxious / Nobody wants to hear about the sunny side of life / They’d rather hear that I’m choking inside”. The song also acts as a eulogy for a loved one and is the poppiest song on the record (try not to love that piano during the chorus).
That said, this record isn’t perfect. While the lyricism has a thematic element to it, the songwriting feels as though there were too many ideas. As stated before, while one song sounds like a pop punk anthem, the next is a guitar heavy alternative track. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it has a distinctive sound of several writing sessions that were mushed together. Additionally, Neilsen’s lyrics on “At Least There’s Always Lexapro” seem like they are half audible under the production, which pulled me out of it entirely. It’s a track I tend to skip over on repeat listens, which is a shame.
Finally, the album closer, “Show Your Scars” is a truly awful track (lol). It is completely different from the rest of the album sonically, and it seems to come out of nowhere after listening to the previous nine tracks.
All said and done though, Everyone You Love Will Slip Away from You is a solid debut from a band consisting of seasoned veterans. Musically, it is more of a departure from what fans of either Senses Fail or Finch are expecting, but the execution and exploration of sound is brilliant. Consisting of two bands that rose from the heyday of Drive-Thru, their influences aren’t hidden. Speak The Truth sound like a crowning achievement that both pays homage to the bands that brought the scene to where it is today as much as it pushes that sound forward with modern sensibilities.
by Kyle Schultz
Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and has a cat that just snored so loudly, he thought someone was breaking into his apartment. As a natural defense, he heroically leapt up, smashed his knee on a table and promptly fell over.