Alec Reviews Music: Circa Survive scales back with ‘The Amulet’

Alec Erickson

Cracking “The Amulet” is a challenge.

Album cover for Circa Surive's The Amulet
Photo Courtesy: iTunes

Circa Survive has just released one of their most artistic, elusive ventures yet. “The Amulet” serves as an ambiguous and deep metaphorical album with a darker meaning than what is there. When you really try to digest “The Amulet,” you start to see some cracks along the surface.

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Circa Survive has been around for the better part of 13 years now. Based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the band never had a hard time of making music with their unique blend of prog-rock and post hardcore elements. Circa Survive can often be described as a more progressive element as some of their work tends to not follow any pattern as a whole. Their first two albums, “Juturna” and “On Letting Go,” garnered a substantial following for the band. It was not until the release of their third studio album, “Blue Sky Noise,” that they gained any mainstream recognition. Ever since then, the band has always been making new and different music, and you will be hard pressed to compare any album another. Their latest endeavor and sixth studio album, “The Amulet,” continues along this trend.

“The Amulet” is a ten-track record that clocks in at around 43 minutes in length. There is as much atmosphere and ambiance when listening to this record as any of the band’s prior releases. What makes this stand out is how much more mysterious it is. There is not a whole lot that will have you coming back for repeated listens, but a few tracks stand out and really sell this record.

Musically, there seems to be a more space-rock influence on “The Amulet” than any of the band’s other albums. Tracks like “At Night It Gets Worse” and “The Hex” almost seem distant and exploratory. Then you listen to “Tunnel Vision” and “Stay” and things seem to be more stale. Some tracks have deep progression and do a lot in a short amount of time, and others seem to not do anything with how much time they are given. It is a give and take kind of world, and Circa Survive are somewhere in the middle.

Lyrically, vocalist Anthony Green’s lyrics are somewhere between apocalyptic and personal. Tracks like “Rites of Investiture” and “Lustration” have a more personal side to them than at first listen. Then when you really start to dig in to this album and listen for what is there, you begin to hear a lot of more general themes and not as much personal elements, heard in tracks like “Premonition of the Hex” and “Flesh and Bone.” While Green shows off his range throughout the record, at times it really does not seem like enough to carry the record on its own. There is a dream-like substance that hangs around tracks like “The Hex” and “Never Tell a Soul.” “The Amulet” seems to cling to a theme but never quite grasps what it wants to tell the listener.

Should you listen to it? Maybe

“The Amulet” is an interesting record; it sits along precariously on a fence without fulling committing to one side or another. There is this brief but serious side of the record that deals with personal struggles and how to overcome one’s demons. On the other end, there is a message warning about the future. It almost seems like Circa Survive could not fully commit to one theme on this record and in the end the only amulet they are wearing is this one of confusion and grandeur.

Band bio:

  • Circa Survive formed in 2004 in Philadelphia.The band has been signed to four different labels and released
  • “The Amulet” with Hopeless Records.
  • 2012’s “Violent Waves” was self-released by Circa Survive.

Collegian Reporter Alec Erickson can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @CTV_Ace.