Label: Sargent House
Release date: 2011Oct25
I remember the first time i heard Russian Circles’ debut record Enter. Their dark, complex instrumental rock put me under their spell and they’ve been working their magic since then. Their following records, Station and Geneva, didn’t disappoint and continued to evolve the band’s output. Their new record takes a quick look in the rear view mirror before heading into the future with a vicious grin.
It’s no secret that many post rock bands often repeat their former glories as they have to rely on soundscapes rather than on melody. The wellknown policy of “quiet/loud” has been overdone by a huge number of bands since Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor first wrote that template in the end of the nineties. Luckily, Russian Circles has fused the classical post rock sound with a technical and metallic groove. This is clearly evident during the first few tracks on the album.
The opening track “309″ rips a hole through the listener with its aggressive guitars and in-your-face attitude, while follow-up “Mladek” is a passionate post rock crescendo. Neither track let the listener forget that one’s listening to Russian Circles even though the tracks veer from complex math rock to sweeping melodies. They’ve managed through their four records and seemingly constant touring (recently with bands such as Boris and Deafheaven) to weld a unique expression unlike most other bands of the instrumental rock genre. It’s puzzling; other post rock records often have a clear sense of sound throughout an entire record. This makes it easier for the listener to be lulled into a trance; to be lost in the music. That never happens with Russian Circles; they won’t let you tune out. Instead they throw the listener constant curveballs which makes it evermore interesting to keep up with the band.
I’m listening to the vinyl version of Empros which i feel makes a whole lot of difference to the end output. I’m aware that streaming and digital downloads are the future and i cherish the possibility to go outside with tens-of-thousands of songs at my fingertips. Still – i highly value the format of the vinyl record: 7″ singles, LP’s and gatefold record covers help make the music more visual for the listener. Empros is close empty of words; only a few word of thanks along with the titles, but the gatefold picture of a flash light and the reddened cover picture of the sun through forest trees makes the music more epic and visceral.
(Published at Mind Over Metal 06.04.12)