By Jared Sokoloff
Circa Survive is one of those groups where it takes a long list of genres to even remotely describe its music. Wikipedia lists them as alternative rock, indie rock, experimental rock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock and shoegaze, though, I’d also throw hardcore in, too. Despite this seemingly diverse mixture, the group doesn’t genre bounce. Rather, these influences are mixed up into a signature brew of the “Circa Survive sound.”
This sound is quite present on the group’s fifth album, “Descensus.” It has evolved from its more experimental state on the band’s earlier albums to its more polished present form. The songwriting is more consistent across the album, and the performances, while very technical, are both tight and life-like. Vocalist Anthony Green’s now-legendary voice strongly delivers, matching the music’s emotion and dynamics perfectly.
“Schema,” the lead single, opens the album — intense and in your face — preparing you for the audio onslaught that is to come. As with its previous releases, the band continues to perfectly straddle the fine dynamic line that flows through an album. The songs soften up at the right moments, giving great depth when the heavy sound kicks in again.
The title track “Descensus” takes an always-welcome influence from the later Led Zeppelin albums, using odd-times and bluesy fills beautifully with modern style. “Child of the Desert” also utilizes the blues influence with a ballsy, soulful turnaround at the end. The dark track “Phantom” relies heavily on an electric piano, which is rare for the band.
None of the songs stand out much from the others, because they are all great songs. There are no filler tracks, unless you count the thirty second transition song, “Who Will Lie With Me Now.” As it is with most Circa Survive albums, standout tracks tend to be personal favorites, so this will be different for everyone.
“Descensus” is a worthy addition to the Circa Survive discography. Experimental while always familiar, it shows a mature band that is still able to grow and just write generally awesome songs.
In a final opinion, Circa’s albums are ones that take time to love. They are good albums for the first or second listen, but they tend to really increase in musical value the more they are played. To get the most out of this album, please allow at least a few play throughs.