When charismatic singer Anthony Green decided to part ways with Saosin in order to form Circa Survive, there was great hope they could jive with the big boys of the post-hardcore scene of the early 2000s. Few, however, could have even begun to anticipate the hysteria that would follow.
Since its groundbreaking debut album, “Juturna,” Circa Survive has become the hero of a deeply introspective and transcendent musical movement. Its ambitious lyrics and trance-inducing riffs have captivated millions, but the question still remains: Can they do it again?
In its third installment, “Blue Sky Noise,” Circa Survive has responded with one of its most aesthetically intense and personal albums to date. While the first listen may initially jar older fans, the new direction shows the band’s unwillingness to compromise musical spontaneity for the trite expectations of others.
The album’s opener, “Strange Terrain,” flaunts the band’s new musical prowess almost immediately. The song’s curious guitar strumming provides a surprisingly comfortable background to the newly added synthesizer, compliments of Green.
On the album’s first single, “Get Out,” new steps are taken when the band finally gets its hands greasy in a good old-fashioned rock-and-roll track. Sure, the song still has its trademark progressive edge, but it does so with a head-banging intensity.
In the standout track, “Imaginary Enemy,” we are shown the band’s vulnerable side. Throughout, Green’s spectral croon laments over the inevitable: a relationship’s failure after self-indulgence.
Here, Nick Beard’s wicked bass line bites into the track with bear-trap intensity, while Colin Frangicetto and Brendan Ekstrom’s guitars waltz around the bass and drum groove.
But what’s most striking on this record is the vast disparity in song moods. At times, the vibes border on extreme optimism, while others exude unfathomable despair, as heard on “Fever Dreams.”
As the track unfolds, you feel goosebumps as Green surrenders himself to the tribal rhythms. During the bridge, he notably confesses, “Now I must compare the consequence, ?end my life or just confess ?I won’t last a minute in confinement. ?Either way, I’m going to hell.”
In a way, it strangely reminds me of the finale of “The End” by The Doors. Its uncompromising vocal performance cracks politically correct listeners square in the jaw.
Then there are the soft-spoken songs, “Spirit of the Stairwell” and “Frozen Creek,” which showcase Green’s ability as not only a singer, but also a skilled acoustic guitarist. These two tracks are the profound ballads the group has been moving toward for years.
For the album’s grand finale, fireworks are lit in “Dyed in the Wool,” which explodes with powerful gang vocals. During the bridge, Green loses himself over the bridge’s canvas through a flourish of emotion.
Make no mistake about it, “Blue Sky Noise” is a beautiful experiment in a wild show of expression. While the album is sure to have its fair share of haters, I suspect that most of the old fans will come to welcome the artistic changes.
Circa Survive has delivered 12 songs that will surely stand the weathering of time.
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