Anthony Green and the boys from Circa Survive released On Letting Go, their second album, in 2007, and gained a lot of critical acclaim for the record, which offers a combination of experimental metal, post-rock and ambient soundscapes. It’s a great listen, but in the 3 years since its release we have not heard much from the band from Philadelphia. Lead singer Green pursued a couple of side projects, releasing solo album Avalon and returning to The Sound of Animals Fighting to record their final record The Ocean and the Sun.
Thus fans of Circa were left wondering when, and perhaps even if, we’d see them return to the studio. Fortunately for all concerned, these wishes were granted and the result is the band’s third album Blue Sky Noise. Anthony Green even released a video on the band’s official site apologising for the large gap between albums, but he shouldn’t have worried: Blue Sky Noise was worth the wait.
Given its full release in April of this year, Circa’s third album picks up where the last left off, the band having further refined their unique musical style, making the most of Green’s spectacular if unorthodox vocals and switching effortlessly between more metal-influenced tracks (‘Imaginary Enemy’) and those with a softer timbre (‘Frozen Creek’). The guitar riffs are strong but don’t overrun proceedings, and in a move which is sadly becoming increasingly rare, every member of the band is given their chance to shine, from Steve Clifford’s drum intro to ‘Strange Terrain’ to Nick Beard’s bass breaks on ‘Through The Desert Alone’.
The star, however, is and probably always will be Green. His voice is somewhat divisive in musical circles, some labelling him with the dreaded ’emo’ tag and accusing him of sounding, well, a bit like a girl. However, for many others, myself included, the explosive power of Green’s vocals is fantastic: not only does it make Circa’s sound even more unique, but also exhibits his staggeringly big range, which can reach highs and lows (both musical and emotional) that most vocalists could never even approach. His soaring tenor on ‘Frozen Creek’ is strong and melodic, his hooks on ‘I Felt Free’ passionate and fierce. Green also contributed some guitar-playing to the record, and this additional texture helps round out the band’s sound, and enables some memorable riffs from lead guitarists Brendan Ekstrom and Colin Frangietto.
Beginning to end, Blue Sky Noise really doesn’t disappoint one bit. The band have changed a lot since début album Juturna, but have kept the originality and spirit which made that album so memorable intact. Sure, some of the tracks stray into familiar territory, but Green’s vocals, the fretwork of Ekstrom and Frangietto and the rock-solid rhythm section of Beard and Clifford ensure that this album won’t be easily confused with lesser, imitative metal albums.
A final point on this excellent album: if you can, track down the Deluxe edition of the record, which features acoustic versions of ‘I Felt Free’, ‘Dyed in the Wool’, ‘Get Out’ and ‘Every Way’. They’re absolutely excellent and merit the extra outlay, showing that the band’s lyrics and songs are far more subtle than the usual swear-happy metal meatheads who depressingly gain an ever-increasing fanbase.
If you’re a fan of metal which offers more than just blind fury, you’ll struggle to find a more enjoyable record this year than Blue Sky Noise. In fact, you may not find many better albums full stop.
Sickest tracks: ‘Get Out’, ‘I Felt Free’, ‘Every Way’, ‘Strange Terrain’.
If you like this, you’ll also like: Planet of Ice – Minus the Bear, Tiger & The Duke – The Sound of Animals Fighting, You Can’t Take it With You – As Tall As Lions.