Circa Survive

The Amulet

Written by: PP on 21/12/2017 22:24:26

The early Circa Survive albums were basically exercises in awe-inspiring sonic beauty, majestic soundscapes that weren't difficult listens for the simple fact that they blew you away on first listen. On recent albums, the band has taken a journeyman-like venture away from their post-hardcore roots towards latin-influenced rhythmic pulsations coupled with solid progressive rock fundamentals, where The Mars Volta has been a gigantic influence at least in terms of the percussion and the unconventional guitars. That, in turn, has made their material more complex and challenging to get into, their sixth album "The Amulet" being no exception.

Though hints of their post-hardcore origins do exist on this record, such as when Green's voice nearly breaks to a throaty scream on "Never Tell A Soul", the majority of the record is similarly lofty, tranquil and focused on progressive atmospherics much like their past couple of records. Green's voice is perhaps even more fragile than ever before, softly guiding us through expansive ambiance, but rarely reaching to the heights of his range where he can be truly remarkable. He's a great singer even in the more restricted range he uses during "The Amulet", but his delivery is nowhere near the captivating performance on, for instance, their masterpiece "On Letting Go".

Speaking of which, there has been talk about "The Amulet" in the context of the old albums, rumours that it's their most "Juturna" and "On Letting Go"-sounding album since "Blue Sky Noise". To an extent that statement holds true. "Stay", for instance, is a powerful track with its clever opening that explodes out the gates with a complex guitar riff that ends up being one of the loudest melodies on the track. Similarly, "Rites Of Investiture" is a fantastic reminder of how great this band sounds as soon as Green lets his vocals loose with breakage and scratchy extended parts adding contrast to the lush soundscapes the band otherwise delves in. We can only hope for more material like this on future albums.

The remainder of "The Amulet" retains its progressive complexity and focus on lulls and tranquil soundscapes. It's almost as if the band are afraid to visit either extreme from the middle-ground, resulting in a record that sort of just...snoozes and dozes off into a relaxing, ambient world of progressive rock where the word 'energy' feels almost totally alien. That said, such an approach produces solid songs nonetheless. "Tunnel Vision", for instance, benefits from a tense, gradually crescendoing soundscape that makes it among the best on the record. So just because they are quieter and more controlled compared to the inspirational rising post-hardcore anthems of their past doesn't make them bad songs. In contrast, however, we're all looking back at their early albums for the classics, even if "The Amulet" is far better than their last couple of efforts.

Download: Tunnel Vision, Lustration, Stay, Rites Of Investiture
For the fans of: Sparta, Thrice, The Mars Volta, Emarosa, dredg, A Lot Like Birds
Listen: Facebook

Release date 22.09.2017
Hopeless Records

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