ALBUM REVIEW: Caspian – On Circles

Release Date: January 24th 2020
Label: Triple Crown Records


Drawing from a broad musical palette, and an occasional hulkiness to their sound which borders on post-metal, instrumental masters Caspian have become one of the most beloved bands to emerge from the post-rock world.

This was in some part thanks to 2015’s cathartic ‘Dust & Disquiet’, a record which was received with large amounts of critical acclaim. Now for their fifth album, ‘On Circles’, they’ve added Will Yip behind the desk to make for a record with an immediate, hard-hitting impact, without sacrificing their ethereal qualities.

‘Wildblood’ is an impactful start, and opening with intoxicating, swirling guitar lines, the crashing drums make this impossible to ignore. We’re lifted into their multi-dimensional world, and reminded why they’re so revered.

‘Flowers Of Light’ comes in with an intricate acoustic guitar, and sure enough we’re again greeted with the band’s signature cinematic build-ups into a wave of emotionally-charged, invigorating second half.

But they know how to switch up their formula, too, seeing this album welcome rare vocal-led outings. ‘Nostalgist’ is one of two tracks featuring vocals, and Kyle Durfey (Pianos Become The Teeth) is on hand to add even more emotional weight to this song. Pianos Become The Teeth‘s recent transformation into a similar sound to this, combined with Caspian‘s stature in their field, make this a match made in heaven, and it’s just as breathtaking and moving in practice as it sounds in your head.

‘Onsra’ opens with an acoustic guitar and is a little more sparse, but again morphs into a moving build-up, with Justin Forrest‘s tribal drumming helping to drive things forward. It stops just as it seems like it’s going to explode, avoiding a common post-rock trope. The build-ups can indeed be traced to be from the Explosions In The Sky school, but as per previously, it’s done with the signature Caspian touch to it. ‘Collapser’ is also a strong reminder of how sonically heavy they can get, too.

‘Ishmael’ again starts with a combination of strings and soundscapes, and has a swirling atmosphere combined with a memorable musical motif. The formula is there, but it’s employed slightly differently every time.

For the closer, ‘Circles On Circles’ is a calming acoustic number with warm vocal harmonies to take us home, wrapping its arms around you after the storm. This also features vocals performed by guitarist and keyboardist, Philip Jamieson, creating a memorable vocal hook.

This latest offering may not bring much of a sonic deviation from ‘Dust & Disquiet’, but it’s still worth a reminder that ‘On Circles’ is still the work of one of the best bands of their craft. This record should solidify Caspian‘s ascent into post-rock royalty.