Review Summary: the musical equivalent of returning home
When organizing bands into genres, the actual depth of the music within whatever form it takes can often be overlooked by the "standards" of said genre. It is quite easy to do this when you consider the amount of music available to us in the age we exist in. There was a time when possessing 10,000 songs on any sort of device was unheard of and well, unfathomable. Fast forward to 2001 when the first iPod surfaced and suddenly the average middle-class music fan has more music than both of their parents combined. I mean, bands like Led Zeppelin and Metallica are talented and all but let's be honest, if The Black Album came out today it would have nowhere near the significance it had in 1991. Why do you think that is? Metallica didn't have a Facebook page to get their friends to spam all over the internet. Their rise to popularity came from the passion they had for the music they were performing. I feel that most people are aware of this seemingly overlooked fact, but the fact of the matter is that it's a lot harder to make an impact on the music world in today's society than it was before the "Age of Information" or whatever life-genre we've been placed into. That sh
itty ska band your cousin started can be heard 5 minutes after they record a song by anyone who has an internet connection. To think that Eminem once put out an album that started riots is so monumental that it almost makes me wish the internet wasn't as prominent as it is. It seems so impossible for music to actually be revolutionary anymore and I don't know if it's the music's fault for being derivative or our fault for being so desensitized to the world around us that we won't let it impact us but either way, it's rather upsetting.
With all of that being said, hearing a band like Circa Survive for the first time can often be refreshing to a listener with a sincere passion for music. They seem to jump between the lighter side of post-hardcore and the "punchier" side of indie rock in musical discussion, but let's pretend that genre tags don't exist for a second. There are often times when a musical group will surface that simply cannot be generalized to even the slightest degree. You see it with bands like Deftones or Brand New, where the consistency of their discographies and the cult followings they develop make them seem more special than those that are in their "scene". People that don't love metal can and do love Deftones. People that don't like pop-punk or emo can and do love Brand New. The reason these facts are so relevant is that bands like that have a key to their sound that shines brighter than the million other bands that try and do the same thing. How does Circa Survive fit in with all of this? Well, they have Anthony Green, for one thing. Anthony Green has become the confidently melancholy narrator for many people that want to hear something sadder than their heart is, and he does a damn good job at executing that role. Seeing Circa Survive perform is the angsty human equivalent of witnessing an hour of Zeus giving high fives to Jesus. It's just, for lack of a better a term, epic. Epic to witness 5 instruments having such an impact on so many people at one time while also feeling that same connection and knowing that no other group of musicians could do the same thing anywhere near as effectively. The best part about it though is knowing that they have an endless number of songs to fill a set with and knowing that no matter what order the songs are in, they will still satisfy the need for them. Every single time.
Needless to say, Circa Survive is pretty damn consistent when you consider the fact that all of their albums have their own identity. Juturna is the exciting debut that super-elitists can forever swear is the only "good" album they ever wrote. On Letting Go is album that made most people aware of who they were with a more mature sound and better songwriting (not to mention The Difference Between Medicine and Poison... being "that" song). Blue Sky Noise is the album that got pretty much everything right with production, songwriting, accessibility, instrumentation, and everything else that should and did make them so prominent. With the overwhelming hype of Blue Sky Noise after its release, many fans unfairly predicted Circa Survive would become another addition to the thick catalogue of bands that fall after releasing their magnum opus. Violent Waves is basically Circa Survive's way of reminding everyone that they still have a very clear vision of what they want their music to represent. While it doesn't really resemble anything of theirs prior to it, Violent Waves can best be compared to On Letting Go when speaking of their discography. The thing that makes it so wonderful is that it takes the sound they made for themselves 7 years prior and masters it. Take the menacing and groovy opening track, "The Birth of the Economic Hitman," where the moodiness perfectly foreshadows the unorthodoxy of the following 10 songs with its 7 minute runtime. Or the relentlessly powerful anthemic "The Lottery," where the sheer heaviness of its hook reminds us all of the Anthony Green we've gotten to know but with so much more confidence and experience that it's almost chilling. Not many bands have the balls to go independent after suddenly becoming more popular than they ever were, but Circa Survive did it. With Violent Waves, they make it extremely hard to argue against it being the absolute best thing they could have done. Whatever route they decide to take with their next release is just as much of a mystery as this album is, but I don't know if anyone else in as high of a pedestal could make it's delivery as exciting. Violent Waves, indeed.
we've become everything we critized
light gives way, shadows spill over our eyes
blinding us within
nothing is sacred....