Overall Score: 8.5/10 Insturmentation: 9/10 Songwriting: 8.5/10 Vocal Performance: 8/10 Pros: Beautifully performed post-rock with a nous for dynamic song craft Cons: It's just another amazing Caspian album and doesn't demonstrate much growth as a band
Those even vaguely in the know as to the goings on of post-rock will be aware of Caspian. A band whose legacy precedes them, they have crafted a monolithic cult legacy in the humble sub-genre over a period of four stunning albums, most recently the universally beloved Dust And Disquiet – a record regarded by many as one of the best of the 2010s. Now, after five years of meticulous craft and honing of abilities in the live arena, the Massachusetts sextet return to bring us album number five, On Circles.
With stunning immediacy, Wildblood, the album’s opening track, demonstrates the dynamism that Caspian have mastered during their illustrious career. The interplay between soft and heavy textures is a marvel to experience, wondrous in technicolour and kaleidoscopic in musical scope. This essentially sets the template for the rest of the record; mostly-instrumental atmospheric music that delights in its hushed tones juxtaposed with crushing, cataclysmic riffs. The apex of the dynamic flair the band have comes in the denouement of penultimate track, Ishmael, in which the four guitarists coalesce into a hulking mass of distorted sound creating an aural sandstorm, coarse and ferocious.
A track like the essentially titular Circles on Circles – the album’s finale – is demonstrably awe-inspiring. It is perhaps the first leviathan-sized song to end an album of this new decade and shows Caspian at the peak of their powers. All this taken in to account, the record’s brilliance feels somewhat hampered by the band’s already existing body of work. The tracks are incredible and the album’s flow is inexorable with every song fluidly shifting from one to the next, however this is just another fantastic Caspian record. It doesn’t feel as though there has been much by way of sonic evolution amongst the six-piece – not that a band have to make great leaps time and again – and feels as if Caspian are settling into a niche. This is common in post- music, and hardly a critical point, but one worth considering. Those expecting a quantum leap in the aural experience will be somewhat let down, but those wanting more of the same from one of the best bands in their genre will be more than satisfied. This is one of the first essential records of the 20s and will be remembered as such, even if it turns out to be Caspian’s least daring release. Stunning excellence in the company of God-like records, this is a must listen.
Caspian’s On Circles is out January 24th via Triple Crown Records