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Circa Survive - On Letting Go CD (album) cover


Circa Survive

Crossover Prog

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4 stars I never thought of circa survive as a prog band but they have none the less a beautiful and creative sound. It's a genre that have been explored before but with a different perspective. Some sort of punkish indie band with sleazier guitar riffs with often some delay effect in them. It's very melodic, having different instrument tracks to make one whole riff not just all guitars and bass playing practically the same thing. I hear a different part every time I listen to the album. Plus the singer has a high pitch voice that can't be mistaken with another. The atmosphere is very emotional and seems to expand so much it makes some sort of wall of sound comparable to some post-rock bands. Having all that they are still able to make catchy tunes and melodies and that's what is wonderful about them.

The first track "Living Together" is a great opening to the album since it demonstrates what they are all about. Some parts are energetic and distorted and others more clean and calm. You can hear the different tracks I was talking about above.

Most of the tracks stand on their own having that special thing but some of them just pass by but are still really good. The first songs are the best and gets you hooked to the music and you let yourself go flowing through the last songs which are the ones that are less "hooking". That's why I only gave the album 4 stars.

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Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars During the time this was released, I've listened to a lot of bands that have are considered post hardcore, especially the one band that lead vocalist Anthony Green used to front and it was mostly that kind of music I've listened to on end. Several years later after expanding my tastes to jazz, metal, folk, prog, etc. most of these types of bands no longer did much for me because they were almost identical and they never really did stand out much, however there are few to this day I still listen to, and this one is one of those albums I still enjoy listening to sometimes. Why?

Both guitarists Colin Frangicetto and Brendan Ekstrom work perfectly with one playing a melodic, shoegaze-like wall of sound and the other playing melodies influenced by heavy noise resulting in an almost dream like atmosphere. Even the melodies have more substance than the typical post hardcore band and manages not to be over used and dull, especially when they play in clean. A really good example of this is in the fast paced "In The Morning and Amazing". I would even put it up to par with Thrice's Teppei Teranishi's playing. Very unique approach of melody and atmosphere that I would like to hear more often.

However, the first four songs are really the peak of this album, afterwards, the music becomes dull and while Steve Clifford isn't a bad drummer, he tries to be technical and just doesn't work that well, especially in the decent song "Kicking Down Your Crosses".

A very well idea on paper that wasn't executed very well, however, the first four songs here are quite impressive compared to what is in this genre nowadays.


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Posted Sunday, December 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a strange album to review. No long songs so that may turn some proggers off. Also, not many would consider Circa Survive a prog band, but it'd be silly to not at least acknowledge their hectic compositions, odd times, surreal atmospheres, and thoughtful lyrics, and an overall new sound to the mix. The songs themselves may not progress much, but they offer a lot. At first, the songs may all sound the same, but with repeated listens, the songs separate and become their own entity, and each one offers a different adventure; however, when the album is played as a whole, it's a series of surreal adventures and it's marvelous. The musicianship is top-notch, creative, and the lyrics are also very thoughtful. The vocals may turn a few people off, but they are definitely unique, adding a touch of surrealism. Lastly, the album may not be a concept album but it definitely has a theme about to sounds as if the album deals with letting go of religion or God or something similar, and the songs are all cohesive. This is definitely a five-star effort.

Living Together starts immediately, with some heartfelt guitars before it quiets down so that Anthony can deliver some insanely unique vocals. "Attached means...Identity," is a beautiful part of the song. The guitar continues with its heavy but heartfelt sound. "Your rational mind is insane," sings Anthony, backed up by melodic guitar touches and tasteful drumming. The guitar work throughout is surreal, as it is in this entire album, almost like a modern Steve Hackett. And what's awesome is that while there are two guitarists, it seems as if both lead rather than having one on rhythm...the duties are split equaly and it really works. Especially at the end of the song, with the guitar squealing as Anthony asks, "would you trade your soul for gold?" Beautiful.

The next song picks up quickly (In the Morning and Amazing...) Check out the time signature change to 11/4 early on, and then again right before Anthony screams, "Infinite Silence!" That's magic. The song switches often and especially at the end there is a switch to 6/8 where everything slightly slows down to make a surreal sound.

The next song (The Greatest Lie) continues with similar guitar work, with more emphasis on vocals. There's some prominent bass in the mix. The most standout part would be the vocals..."Nobody's really there...Nobody's real." That hits hard.

We continue with a gem of a song (The Difference Between Poison and Medicine is in the Dose). Read the genius lyrics and check out the insane 3/4 drumming in the intro. The bass backs it up with some surreal thumping notes and the guitar runs circles around you. The chorus seems to switch time to 4/4 but if you pay attention it does not. The chorus is catchy and has great lyrics, and right afterwards, you're attacked by an onslaught of twin guitar, it sounds great. "Accomplishments are transient..." wow. And then the ending is powerful, an overall amazing song.

Next up: Mandala. It has a psychedelic intro before some absolutely insane drumming comes in. The guitar work here is also fun and trippy. The lyrics are also great and easily relatable. Overall, the drums are absolutely tasty on this track, let them carry you away. "Dance with me for I'll be leaving soon..." it seems like the drums are dancing here, check it out.

Travel Hymn offers some of the best vocal work and some mesmerizing guitar lines. The bass is interesting but unfortunately a little low in the mix. "Time starts to slow down!" Is an awesome vocal deliver, and the music seems to slow a little. The arrangements are definitely very orchestral. "Something set us off into the wrong direction, but within this particular space, time goes to waste..."

Semi-Constructive Criticism enters with a resonating guitar chord followed by some immediately hectic Mars Volta-ish jamming. I think there are two time signatures going on here. The interplay between vocals and music is great, especial "tinfoil forest," what great use of imagery in both the music and lyrics! The post-hardcore attitude in this song really takes the best the genre has to offer and makes it completely unique here.

The next song has a bit of a Gabriel-Genesis vibe (Kicking your Crosses Down), just a touch. The lyrics are golden here, and the choruses seem to take on a happier sound, it's marvelous. After the first chorus there is a tiny bit of surreal guitar and bass work and then it continues in the same vein. The part after "And all the voices sound just like you" feature intense drumming and a mood shift on guitars and bass, excellent.

The Title Track begins with some unique lyrics and then continues to offer what this band does best, although there are some really nice psychedelic touches that help make this an awesome journey. The choruses are so sentimental and heartfelt and even a bit disturbing, but it sounds great. "If blood is thicker than water then you'll drown quicker than we intend," is a disturbing lyric (nice internal rhymes) and the music really augments it. The part towards the ending is incredibly heartfelt.

Carry Us Away picks up off of the heartfelt ending and has a post-apocalyptic feel to it. It sounds great and is full or some orchestral guitar work throughout. Amazing interplay. This has a darker feel to it than most of the other songs, really nice.

Close Your Eyes to See is a beautiful title and it delivers. These are perhaps the best lyrics on the album (although each song has something awesome to offer). Full of imagery and provoking thought. The drums add their own little touches but the guitars really have this ethereal sound about, along with the basslines. "If we know each other, then why should it be so hard to make it stop?"

Finally, Your Friends are Gone (a depressing title) begins with a psychedelic 5/4 section and goes through some different sections before a very beautiful depressing ending. The midsection is one of the most ethereal on the album, but the ending gets even better than that in 6/8. Wow.

Overall, this album works so well due everyone's cohesive effort. The biggest problem is definitely the bass, it's too low on the mix and it's doing some really nice things. But besides that, the album is surreal and maybe I'm crazy but it reminds me of early Genesis, it's great. The lyrics are easy to relate to and ultimately, the music is very enjoyable...a great album. What's awesome is the songs work individually and even better as a whole.

Report this review (#595598)
Posted Saturday, December 24, 2011 | Review Permalink

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