Circa Survive - On Letting Go (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Circa Survive

On Letting Go (2007)

Equal Vision

Expectations were nothing less than monumental for Circa Survive and their sophomore LP, On Letting Go. Ex-members of This Day Forward would take yet another creative leap from their roaring metalcore heydays; Equal Vision would hold its collective breath at their volcanic buildup to the release; and finally, Anthony Green would finally be releasing a second full-length with a singular collective outfit.

Watching its reception unfold and taking in the album itself, the band has seemed to fortunately deliver on nearly all fronts. The one minor criticism they've been most often hit with is how they may have played it safe in nearly writing a mere sequel to Juturna, with many pointing out how producer Brian McTernan paints the landscape with the same sonic brush and the band fill the soundscapes with more bold choruses, warm/cool atmospheres and Green's comforting croon.

This seems a little unfair considering a couple factors, though. For starters, On Letting Go feels much less airy than its predecessor; the rhythm section is beefed up, giving the band a thicker, bolder feel. As well, a steady Cave In influence circa Jupiter/Antenna seems to mark a number of the tracks, channeling that band's shards of metallic, shimmering guitar work ("Mandala," the title track, "Carry Us Away") and trippy space rock vibe -- perhaps McTernan, who produced Jupiter, carried over a few of the traits he oversaw during its recording. Actually, some of the ringing guitars in "Kicking Your Crosses Drown" recalls Audioslave's "Be Yourself" -- seriously. Granted, much like Juturna, only careful, attentive listening reveals the subtleties of the melodies hidden beneath wailing guitars and cascading flourishes of instrumentation. But it feels like those are both somehow more immediate and esoteric than those on Juturna.

Anthony Green's sound ruminations remain cryptic ("If blood is thicker than water, then / you'll drown quicker than we intended"), world-weary ("Did you ever wish you were somebody else?") or downright bitter ("We laugh in the face of love because nobody's really there"). His articulate musings fulfill the depth promised by the sounds the rest of his band manages to craft. Green's moods range from pleading and desperate to cold and denying to lost and self-deprecating to confident and optimistic -- he leaves it all out on the table, and it doesn't hurt that his voice is as captivating as usual.

Throw in visually stunning and clever packaging and On Letting Go is a serious success. Circa Survive continues to grow into their sound, and as quiet as their progression may be so far, it's finding its followers delicately floating along every turn of the way.

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