by Kyle Taylor
A debut album can be a really powerful thing- it can define a group’s sound; it can express new musical ideas not yet explored. But what separates those groups that we celebrate as truly great bands and those that are just scraping by on the remnants of that hit song they had a couple years back? Versatility is always a good starting point.
The seemingly organic existence of that ideal for locally based band Circa Survive has given them a tremendous push. Since their first release, “The Inuit Sessions” EP, and debut album, “Juturna”, in 2005, the band has brought nothing but fluid chemistry to every release since.
The group’s fifth studio album, “Descensus”, once again settles into absolutely no style whatsoever. Lead vocalist Anthony Green’s famously soprano vocals do, of course, lay claim to the album, but that’s really the only quality that makes Circa Survive sound like Circa Survive. Behind those vocals are an extremely wide spread perspective of approaches to musical composition from an assembly of equally skilled musicians.
The album makes a statement for itself immediately with opening track, “Schema”, which delivers a rapidly powerful assault of riveting noise, cascading drums, and aggravated vocals- it’s certainly attention grabbing to say the least. But from there, the record settles out, intermittently carrying itself through spouts of angers and the total exhaustion of defeat that follows.
Make no mistake, “Descensus”, boasts its emotional energy with it from beginning to end, but its far from a relentless flurry of fury. Tracks like “Nesting Dolls” and “Phantom” allow the listener a chance for some breath. The repression of such rapid drum patterns certainly does a lot to that affect.
Yet, even with such drastic tempo changes, “Descensus” manages to flow flawlessly and continuously beginning to end. A downpour of post-hardcore distress can fade into a jostling punk-inspired track, which can then manage to eek its way ever so sneakily into the roots of a minimal shoegaze sound.
Circa Survive so effortlessly creates such cohesive pieces of work time and time again, demonstrating an adept ability to constantly experiment and push their sound to new places.
Originally from Doylestown, PA, just outside of the city, Circa Survive will take the stage for back to back nights at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia, PA 19123) next weekend; Saturday, December 13th and Sunday, December 14th — details and tickets HERE.
02) “Child of the Desert”
03) “Always Begin”
04) “Who Will Lie With Me Now”
05) “Only the Sun”
06) “Nesting Dolls”
07) “Quiet Down”
09) “Sovereign Circle”