by J. Joe Smith
The Amulet is the new album from the hard-hitting progressive rock band from Philadelphia, Circa Survive. The Amulet is available on Hopeless Records and contains ten tracks. The band is comprised of: Anthony Green – lead vocals, Brendan Ekstrom – rhythm guitar, Colin Frangicetto – lead guitar, backing vocals, Nick Beard – bass guitar, backing vocals and drummer Steve Clifford. Circa Survive is known for their creative playing, with different styles and genres from album to album and their ability to blend ambient soundscapes, with high energy in a melodic way. On The Amulet, the band has noticeably subdued some of their aggression in favor of slower, gentler forays and explore a somewhat new sound for the group The Amulet is an album that explores moods more than previous releases, but don’t worry, the Circa Survive creativity is still there.
Beginning with “Lustration,” which starts with Green singing a falsetto melody over a moody soundscape of sounds. The driving drums of Clifford enter and the band is off and running. Clifford’s drumming is a big part of the CS sound, and this track is a prime example of his intricate undercurrents. “Lustration” will certainly be a track that will satisfy the long-time fan and is perhaps the strongest of the ten. The strumming guitar part adds an energetic layer. The chorus is strong and Green’s vocals are in top form.
“Never Tell A Soul” keeps the energy up with elaborate overlapping guitar parts and Clifford’s propulsion. The band’s songwriting is full of surprises and this song has multiple sections that flow in and out of varying levels of intensity and instrument density, to tell the musical story. Always focusing on melody, the band easily keeps all the parts flowing and working together. Again, Green’s falsetto singing is excellent, he has that special luminescence when in his upper range.
“Rites of Investiture” displays Green’s raspy yells and strong front man persona. Set to a punky and distorted bass riffs, syncopated drum accents and simultaneously hard-hitting guitar parts, making this the heaviest song on an overall more mellow album. The band is full of high energy and with melodic use of that signature Anthony Green yell, this song is certainly going to make the playlist.
Circa Survive is a super tight band that is exploring new musical territory, their songwriting skills and creativity give a unique edge over many bands, and even though this album may not have the aggression of past ones, it still deserves attention. The Amulet is another great addition to the band’s discography, highlighting their strong commitment of taking their music in any creative direction that their ears call for and delivering an impassioned collection of songs.
Tracks to sample first: “Lustration,” “Never Tell A Soul,” “Rites of Investiture” and “At Night It Gets Worse.” The song to take a chance on is “Flesh and Bone.”