Circa Survive decided to separate themselves from label pressure and self-produce their fourth studio album, Violent Waves. What results is one of their most diverse and intense albums yet. In short, it's their best album. They have assimilated all of the best qualities of their previous albums into 55 minutes of pure rawness, swift tempo changes, and a variety of sonic-sounds -- some of which are fairly different from past albums. But, in the end, it's pure euphoria.
The listener is first graced with the seven minute opener, "Birth of the Economic Hit Man", driven by sweeping guitar-effects from Colin Frangicetto and Brendan Ekstrom. This quickly transitions to "Sharp Pracitce", in which Anthony Green aggressively expresses his frustration with the music industry. The next song, "Suitcase", was one of the early songs released from the album, and it still doesn't feel stale. The song features Green's vocals drifting over atmospheric guitar-riffs as syncopated beats from drummer Steve Clifford act as the wind in the song's progression. Later, Geoff Rickly, from the band Thursday, contributes some guest vocals to "The Lottery", a wrenching song about mortality inspired by a cancer diagnosis in Green's family. Rickly's chill voice adds a haunting background to Green's more aggressive vocals.
The latter half of the album has a more chill vibe, but it's probably my favorite half. It includes intimate songs about the past like "Think of Me When They Sound" to the steady beats of "Bird Song" telling us to let go of inevitable stress. Violent Waves ends with what might be one of their best songs ever written, "I'll Find A Way". The lead guitar trickles over hills and valleys, giving us a truly solid closer. This song just grooves -- and it does so for seven minutes. A nice touch for anyone who likes symmetry.
Violent Waves is hands-down the best album I've heard so far this year. Circa Survive took a chance in leaving their label and doing it all on their own. Well, they succeeded in every way possible. Now, back to listening to the album!