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Posted on December 17th, 2014 (12:00 pm) by Casey Bauer

Your speakers screech with the sound of what could only be guitars on fire. A drumset blasts at a full forte, threatening to break heads, and refusing to hit the same surface twice in a row. After a brief moment of silence, we suddenly hear vocals we recognize, but are different, somehow. They’re harsh, gruff, and laden with a passion that we haven’t heard before, at least not from the lips whose croons and melodic wails have tickled the indie rock and emo scene for the last 10 years. This is Anthony Green, more raw and aggressive than ever, and this is the new Circa Survive album, Descensus.

Indeed, it’s been a long career for Circa Survive, and especially for Anthony Green. Green is the busy leading man for not only Circa Survive, but also The Sound of Animals Fighting, his own solo career, and as of recently, a brief reunion and possible new record with his original group, Saosin (Seven Years, Translating the Name anyone?). On top of making quality music for the last decade, the guys of Circa Survive have been through even more in their personal lives: loves and losses, divorces and drug abuse, and within the last year, everything reached such a peak that the future of Circa Survive was unclear. With Green’s second admission into rehab for a heavy heroin addiction, the band wasn’t sure reuniting under the same name was such a good idea, but with the promise to go drug and alcohol free, the band got back together, belted out Descensus in five weeks, and… the result? The most intense and progressive Circa Survive album to date.

“Schema,” the band’s latest single and the album's opening track, takes no prisoners and immediately puts up a heavy forefront on an album that’s otherwise, surprisingly vulnerable, right down to its core. Drawing heavily on some rough times, most of the album's songs are dark and more complex rhythmically, while also possessing a certain weight that makes Descensus an emotional investment. “Nesting Dolls” is a seven-minute, climatic dive into the chest of the band, where a heavy, polyrhythmic 3 against 2 beat drifts in the background as swirling vocals mourn, “you shouldn’t stay, we’ll never change.” The 15-year old, swoopy-haired, eyeliner-wearing kid in us swoons, and we oblige to a swimming, ethereal journey that never quite resolves, but sure does give us the feels.

The rest of Descensus is similarly unpredictable, but equally enjoyable, as every track has some sort of surprise. Listen for the faint, but rhythmic hand drums in “Only the Sun,” and the time change in the already off-metered “Child of the Desert” that literally warrants an out loud “what?” (quickly followed by a “bad ass!”). “Phantom” sounds like an abrupt channel change, as a gentle, jazzy croon takes the lead. The guitar's speedy triplets in “Sovereign Circle” makes the track a perfect go-to jam.

Whether you’ve been following Circa Survive since their Juturna days, or if you’re brand new to their sound, Descensus is going to be a treasure for all. For the newbies, you have killer, dynamic percussion, bass lines that can hold their own alongside the guitar, and vocals that are simply unmatched, soaring high and spilling over bar lines as time signatures refuse common time. For old, die hard fans, you get an emotional rollercoaster; an accumulation of everything Circa Survive has been, as well as their current pit stop into darker, denser, and more complex territory than before. Simply put, Descensus is another confident, killer album in a long line of confident, killer albums that can only be played at full blast.

Track List:

  1. Schema
  2. Child of the Desert
  3. Always Begin
  4. Who Will Lie With Me Now
  5. Only the Sun
  6. Nesting Dolls
  7. Quiet Down
  8. Phantom
  9. Sovereign Circle
  10. Descensus
Circa Survive - Descensus Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

85 / 100
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