When Anthony Green rejoined Saosin to release ‘Along The Shadow’ last year, the hype was considerably more muted than it would’ve been over a decade ago. It’s probably because, unfortunately, Green no longer has the same scene clout he once had, which perhaps explains why Circa Survive’s ‘The Amulet’ seems to have been sneaked out on the sly with minimal buildup to back it up.
That also might be because it does fall short of what Circa Survive are capable of, and it’s a difficult fact to ignore. ‘The Amulet’ is much more focused on the progressive side of the band’s sound, rather than the post-hardcore one. As a result much of it is built around gentle, indie-flavoured guitars and some pretty versatile drumming with little variety. Put that to a track like ‘Never Tell A Soul’ or ‘Premonition Of A Hex’ (the latter of which is slow as it is), and there’s a certain distance to proccedings that doesn’t grip with the force that it could. Green’s vocals don’t help either, sticking to a fragile, high-pitched range that only emphasises how aloof this album can be.
What redeems ‘The Amulet’ is a lot of the instrumentation itself, mostly relying on the set of progressive indie sounds that it spends most of its runtime mixing and matching, but not being limited to them. And when Circa Survive do widen their visions here, it can make for a couple of tracks that border on genuine greatness. ‘Flesh And Bone’ is the best on offer with its underlying piano line that exacerbates the frigidness in Green’s voice to great effect. But there’s also ‘Stay’ and ‘Rites Of Investiture’ that go for some heavier, bass-driven alt-rock to change up proceedings for the better. To tell the truth, on a purely instrumental level, there’s nothing here that’s outright awful, with the languid guitars and especially the drums coalescing for some effective soundscapes.
If Circa Survive find a way to make this style a bit more mobile, they could be onto something pretty potent that could definitely work for them. For now though, ‘The Amulet’ is a decent effort let down by a disappointing lack of dynamics. Even though it’s an easy listen to get lost in, the fact it’s only a shade away from being so much more is still frustrating.
‘The Amulet’ by Circa Survive is released on 22nd September on Hopeless Records.
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Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)