Circa Survive
Violent Waves


3.5
great

Review

by Eli EMERITUS
August 24th, 2012 | 153 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Violent Waves" is a refreshing excursion into experimentation, but lacking the energy of "Juturna" and the pitch perfect songwriting of "Blue Sky Noise," Circa's latest feels more like its uglier and blander brother, "On Letting Go."

From the very beginning, Violent Waves presents itself as a very different Circa Survive outing. Darting out of the gate is the explosive “Birth of the Economic Hit Man,” a seven minute (long by Circa Survive standards) piece that features more interesting moments and transitions than most other songs by the band. It is a fluidly written song that displays the band’s more aggressive sound, as well as their more indie leanings. It is a wonderful metaphor for Violent Waves as a whole: a big, bold excursion into a more experimental sound as Circa learn to expand their horizons.

It’s a tough job to follow up Blue Sky Noise, the band’s third and most critically and commercially successful album to date. Said album was essentially the perfection of the post-hardcore tinged indie sound that the band had been working on up until that point. Rather than copy/paste that success into their new record (much like they did with On Letting Go), the band has shifted gears a bit, opting for a more experimental sound. The album is an experimental move for the band as well, as Circa Survive have opted to release the album independently, with promotion and production all done by themselves. Despite the name, Violent Waves has less of an edge, with much of the record being decidedly subdued. This becomes heavily apparent with “Suitcase” and “Think of Me When They Sound.” Both songs act as breaks between the more exciting and extroverted pieces, and it is a nice change in pace. It is truly neat to see the band spend less time flexing its muscles and pay more attention to the details. Unfortunately, Circa Survive fumble these moments as well, as “Think of Me When They Sound” is both calming and boring, wearing out its welcome early on with its flat delivery.

Yet when Circa Survive experiment well, it is nothing short of excellent. Some selections even manage to be some of the best work of the band’s career. The heavy hitters are especially exciting as “Sharp Practice,” “The Lottery,” and “Blood from a Stone” have the best replay value of the entire album. It is “Phantasmagoria” that springs to mind first, though, as it is the most unique track on the record. It is profoundly catchy, with a somewhat “dancey” vibe that drives the entire thing. Anthony Green later erupts into frenzy, marking one of the album’s best moments. More light hearted and upbeat, its outwardly weirdness pays off in spades. Thursday’s Geoff Rickly makes an appearance on “The Lottery,” and his voice makes an incredibly welcome addition during the song’s cathartic climax. “Blood from a Stone,” however, features Anthony Green’s best performance on the record. He shows restraint when he should, and lets it loose when necessary, with both unfortunately being rare occurrences on Violent Waves.

Who would have thought that the ferocious Anthony Green-who early into the last decade was tearing up the underground post-hardcore scene-would become so domesticated? But this is exactly where we find Green on Violent Waves, understated and under the radar. The same man whose shrill vocals were laid passionately bare on each Circa Survive record thus far has taken things down a notch. This is not a volume issue, as Green still makes sure that his delivery is clearly heard, but more a problem with how well he conveys the music with his voice. It’s merely him going through the motions, and for the first time ever, Anthony Green sounds absolutely average.

Despite some missed opportunities, Violent Waves is exactly the album Circa Survive needed to make. It is a bold statement that the band is willing to mix things up and adapt to a musical climate where doing the same thing isn’t good enough anymore. Some things here work, and some do not. Fortunately, the band is clever enough to largely know which ones do, and thus Violent Waves is a success. For those wishing to see a return to Juturna, this album isn’t for you. For those wanting a Blue Sky Noise pt. 2, this album also isn’t for you. This is Circa Survive making music for them, and that in itself is enough to celebrate.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenophanes
Emeritus
August 24th 2012


10594 Comments


Yes I am aware of how much this reads like a "4."

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Omaha
Staff Reviewer
August 24th 2012


10207 Comments


Yeah man, this really reads like a 4 ugh Eli

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

Xenophanes
Emeritus
August 24th 2012


10594 Comments


sorry man : [

It's more of a 3.75 and I'm that shitty professor that doesn't round up.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
August 24th 2012


10207 Comments


In that case, I sincerely hope my new Accounting professor doesn't think like you! ;]

Seriously though, really nice review. I can't wait to hear this - I'll probably feel similarly, because I know that you also enjoyed BSN a hell of a lot.

chambered49
August 24th 2012


1727 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

great review sir, decent record, nowhere near as good as juturna

Xenophanes
Emeritus
August 24th 2012


10594 Comments


Thanks guys.

For me it's:

1. BSN
2. Juturna
3. Violent Waves
4. OLG

TenSecondsToThink
August 24th 2012


1231 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If I had to tell someone about this album, it would sound like a 4 as well. I really like it but there's something that prevents it from being better than other albums.
I also think some of the songs are way too long.

Oceanus
August 24th 2012


877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review Xeno. I agree that something about the vocals aren't quite on-par this time. I can't decide if it's Green's delivery, or if it's the production that really tones down the would-be emotionally raw lines.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
August 24th 2012


10594 Comments


See I thought the production was kinda meh as well. Some of the stuff really sounds "tinny" to me. I thought it was my copy, but the stream sounds iffy as well.

Tyrael
August 24th 2012


20879 Comments


'I thought it was my copy, but the stream sounds iffy as well.'

Suuuuure

Your 'copy' eh? ;]

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

chambered49
August 24th 2012


1727 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

never rly liked these guys prod but i thought they hit their songwriting chops on juturna

Wildcatforever
August 24th 2012


441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Reads like a 4

paradox1216
August 24th 2012


484 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This pretty much describes what I think so far. NOWHERE near as boring as On Letting Go, and the experimentation is welcome and awesome, but the songs just generally aren't as well done as BSN.

Digging: Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World

taxidermist
August 24th 2012


7203 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

The only thing I didn't like about this album is that the last track wasn't a BANG like every other Circa Survive album. I mean, House of Leaves? All Your Friends Are Gone? Compendium/Dyed In the Wool? All of those tracks are fucking spectacular. I'll find a way was...ok. I like that it uses that same calm groove at the end of Brother Song, but I was really underwhelmed that the last track wasn't as powerful. I'll probably review this when I get my hands on the lyrics. I love lyrics, so I want that to pay a huge part in my review :-p

LuigiPichardo
August 24th 2012


64 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't understand all of the love they got for Juturna. To me, it was their least dynamic and lacked hooks . I wish Violent Waves was a little more "in your face" but I'm sure it'll grow on me enough to be neck and neck with BSN.

Digging: Now, Now - Threads

Pentagon
August 24th 2012


1998 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

awesome review but meh album

ZilbelPing
August 24th 2012


6160 Comments


I haven't heard this despite the fact that I love Circa Survive.

taxidermist
August 24th 2012


7203 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Anthony Green sounds absolutely average.

Oh...it hurts me...inside... Dx

Hahaha. Good review Xeno.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
August 24th 2012


10594 Comments


It's true mang

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 24th 2012


4424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, man. Though I thought “Think of Me When They Sound” was a pretty good track.



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