Post-rock has become the musical equivalent of saltpeter. Emasculating to a fault, the genre sits with its legs crossed. Call it Will and Grace-rock.
It's not like we wish that the rock landscape were overrun with dudes in puke-stained Slayer gear who open beer cans with their teeth. But in the midst of the current emo explosion, it'd be nice to hear more bands like Gold Circles, who emote with backbone. Hell, even the wusses in Poison understood that when you cry, "You gotta cry tough."
And these dudes are tough. Much like their Kent brethren in Party of Helicopters -- whose members all make guest appearances on this record -- Gold Circles succeed by wedding the bombast of metal to the introspection of pop. The result is a sound that's both pummeling and pleading, making this band clearly indebted to its fellow Midwesterners in the sadly defunct Hum. And filed right next to that band in Gold Circle's record collection is, undoubtedly, Helmet. Steve Five's towering guitar brings to mind the bared molars and knuckles of Page Hamilton, while Five's cohorts (drummer Jason Tarulli and bassist Josh Spinhoward) display an astute sense of dynamics, normally reserved for a Holy Grail of rock like Strap It On.
Abuse the Magic doesn't quite reach those heights, but nevertheless, the discordant, afterburner guitars of "Mutes and Muses," the gauzy melancholia of "Shootout in the Sandy Hallway," and the bracing "Cruel" -- which sounds like a Billy Joel tune reinterpreted by Metallica -- make this disc sonic Viagra for all of rock's Limp Bizkits.