Circa Survive - Juturna (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Circa Survive

Juturna (2005)

Equal Vision

There's no question in regards to the powderkeg of talent contained within Circa Survive. The band formed when, after Philadelphia-based This Day Forward dissolved in 2003, guitarist Brendan Ekstrom and drummer Colin Frangicetto started collaborating with Anthony Green, who, on his way back to California to rejoin his former bandmates in Saosin, had a change of heart during a stopover in Phoenix. Green returned home to his native Philadelphia and seems to have finally found a permanent place with his current outfit.

The first track that ever materialized from the post-hardcore outfit is still one of their best, as it showed off many favorable qualities in a band of their genre. With the demo version of "Handshakes At Sunrise," there was a prog-influenced musical landscape that changed from atmospheric and trippy to aggressive on a dime, a melodic and emotional chorus, and the incredibly strong, dynamic vocal work from Green. Unfortuantely, very few tracks on the band's debut full-length replicate that power, and even then, the ones that do ("Act Appalled," "The Great Golden Baby") already appear on Juturna's preceding teaser EP, The Inuit Sessions. The reserved intensity of opener "Holding Someone's Hair Back" and late entry "Oh, Hello" make for strong tracks as well, but there's little rising and falling action in the remaining portions, and the majority of the disc in question ends up acting as moderately enjoyable background music at times, if not altogether dull noise the rest.

Brian McTernan does a solid job at the knobs, helping bring forth the atmospheric qualities that make up the band's standout musical aspect. Green's vocals help keep your interest afloat, no doubt, but without the guitarwork constantly piling on top of each other, rare and appropriate use of acoustics and over-par percussion, Juturna seems rather helpless. Though in the band's defense, they're more than adequate lyrically, as the well-written narratives manage to match the urgency found in the music backing them, elicting a fairly consistent pessimistic attitude while never coming off self-pitying or sympathy seeking.

After months and months of anticipation, I really want to like Juturna, especially in that it continues to express at least a few obvious points: the band is composed of talented individuals striving for something that isn't redundant, clichéd, or forced, even in the lavish artwork presented. However, most of the record seems to lose itself in those very points, and perhaps dwells far too much in a lack of changing paces and varying dynamics for it to be deathly interesting as a whole. Juturna is promising if nothing else, but also vaguely disappointing for all that's at hand.

Act Appalled
The Great Golden Baby
In Fear And Faith
Oh, Hello