Review Summary: Don't give into wild currents
Without even listening to their new release I knew Circa Survive was up to something. A 55-minute record that starts off with a 7-minute introduction- it’s obvious they didn’t hold anything back. Nor did they feel the need for any help while creating such an enormous album instead opting to produce it on their own. These are bold moves from a band that has used its lead singer’s popularity as a crutch just as much as any other. Anthony Green has always possessed the pipes and introspective lyrics to carry this group and Blue Sky Noise showed major improvements by the other musicians but it’s now, after three full lengths and countless side projects, that Circa Survive has finally put it all together.
Violent Waves is the epic beast fans have waited for. Circa Survive has fleshed out fully the sounds they focused on with each of their previous albums and fans of Juturna, On Letting Go, and Blue Sky Noise will feel right at home. The likeness between this album and their past efforts is evident but never overbearing. “Birth of the Economic Hit Man” sets a tone reminiscent of “Holding Someone’s Hair Back” with its spacey, atmospheric beginning. But at seven minutes this is a bolder more progressive track perfect for foreshadowing what Circa Survive is capably of when they aren’t confined by a label. The next two songs that follow are very much what we have come to expect from this band. “Sharp Practice” is a single with a catchy chorus and just as much energy as “Act Appalled” and “Get Out” that’s followed by another reincarnation of “The Greatest Lie” and “I felt Free” in “Suit Case”. But these are sides of Circa Survive that we have seen.
It’s with the fourth track, “The Lottery” that Circa Survive finally distances themselves from their past efforts. Aptly called “Face Melter” prior to the record’s release; this is the type track “Glass Arrow” and “Through the Desert Alone” were trying to be. Guitarists Colin Frangicetti and Brendon Ekstrom showed glimpses of their talent with several songs on Blue Sky Noise but “The Lottery” is a full coming out party. It’s louder, faster, and most definitely the heaviest song they’ve ever written. Featuring prominent guest vocals by Thursday’s Geoff Rickly in the epic climax it allows for a side of Anthony Green few may be familiar with. Rickly calls out-
Who’ll take the lottery"
We’re the unlucky one’s
as Anthony Green answers,
Don’t look away
I won’t let it tear us apart
Don’t look away
I won’t let it take you
Green delivers this with the type of untamed passion that only fans of The Sound of Animals Fighting will recognize. His screeching carries over the seething guitar lines culminating in one the bands greatest moments to date.
“My Only Friend” follows with a much more upbeat, spacey, arppeggiated riff that immediately distinguishes itself from the track before. We are now getting into the heart of this beast of a record. The song caries through a fairly standard Circa Survive chorus but it’s the breakdown at the end filled with heavily distorted guitars and big symbols crashes that is definitely the song’s most epic moment. And Circa has definitely got a firm hand on creating epic endings with the upbeat, almost dance provoking, “Phantasmagoria” and lengthy guitar breakdown of “Brother Song” proving strong examples. “Brother Song” ends in a fury of squealing guitars and carries a small interlude, not unlike many that end songs on Blue Sky Noise, to one of the albums strongest tracks “Bird Sounds”.
Kicking of immediately with a drum- beat almost identical to “Close Your Eyes To See” this is without a doubt the catchiest song on an otherwise incredibly dense and layered album with Anthony Green crooning-
And it remains the only thing we can’t explain
But you won’t let go, you don’t know how to
And every morning there’s a meaningful mistake
You’re not awake at all, You’re not awake at all
in the chorus and outro. These make for Green’s most instantly memorable lyrics because as fans surely already know, most of his lyrics require several listens to fully grasp. “I’ll Find a Way” proves to be another anomaly with Green belting out-
Don’t give into wild currents
Don’t believe in callous rituals
I’ll always want to carry it all
Find a way to carry it all for you
throughout the album’s climatic ender. We haven’t seen this type of epic ending to a Circa album since “Your Friends Are Gone” and this is arguably better in everyway. The 4:10 mark is the greatest culmination of Circa Survive’s eight- year history and the perfect finish to Circa Survive’s most ambitious effort. It may take multiple listens to fully discover but Violent Waves is the best record Circa Survive has made. They have blended their previous three albums perfectly in this fleshed out rock epic. Circa Survive has found what they were looking for and the question now is if they will search for something more, something greater, or just stay content. Knowing this band, they are never content.