Summary:A post-rock band that possesses the ability to range from a quiet, sparse sound to a dense wall of sound that rivals some of the best metal bands in the world. Although with only three members, the possibilities are endless.
'I know what everyone thinks when they hear about a marching band. They think the marching band is just the support for the football team and at halftime; they go out and ruin old pop songs. In my school district, this could not be further from the truth. While our football team finished near the bottom of their division with a record of 3-8, shut out two times, our marching band came in 5th place at the Tournament of Bands Atlantic Coast Championships, which includes over 400 bands from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, New York, and Ohio. The band is easily the most successful program in the school. What does this have to do with Russian Circles? Well, the use of contrast allows the band to achieve extremely high music scores. A large range of dynamics keeps the music energetic and interesting. Russian Circles manages to use a huge amount of contrast with only three members, and it makes for some of the most interesting post-rock music that, without the contrast, would be just an average post rock record.
Enter is the first full length album from Russian Circles, a band formed out of Chicago and looks to fellow Chicagoans Pelican for inspiration and direction. Although the two bands possess obvious similarities, Russian Circles focuses much more on their quiet passages and uses the metal-esque sections simply as climaxes. The band never plays around with time signatures or rhythm, their riffs are for the most part simple enough, and the chordal structure is interesting but nothing groundbreaking. The drummer, Dave Turncrantz, serves as the propelling force behind the band, laying down just the right groove at the right time. He adds a tint of rhythmic complexity with his fills, but never enough to detract from the overall sound. Guitarist Mike Sullivan is certainly not the most talented guitarist in the world. He plays his faster riffs rather sloppily at times and his tone squeaks here and there. His chord strumming sounds inconsistent, but his melodic ideas prove greater than his faults. Colin DeKuiper, bassist, creates the most contrast in the band, nearly disappearing in the quiet sections and becoming a relentless wall of sound in the heavier sections.
Although only six tracks, Enter spans nearly 50 minutes of music, making a typical length for a full length album. Even with three members, they manage to create enough variety to make the album a great listen. Carpe, although the longest track on the album, simply serves as the opening track to the album. It builds intensity and shows a quick representation of all the band’s sounds. It masterfully builds and falls multiple times, all while revolving around one simple melodic idea. The drums switch grooves throughout, either laying back or propelling forward. The heavier moments of the track appear to be all the band can muster, but later on the album; they take their metal sound to a whole new level. Death Rides a Horse opens viciously, almost sounding like a full band statement of Cliff Burton’s Anesthesia. However, that quickly changes, only serving as an intro. Death Rides a Horse is easily the overall heaviest and quickest song on Enter. Even this song possesses its contrast, though. After its heavy intro, it comes down a slight bit, showing off Sullivan’s best guitar work. It all builds to a surprisingly catchy riff that fits on just about any metal band’s album. It doesn’t stop there, though. After a drum feature, a dissonant hammering of guitar and bass like a death bell chimes in time after time. Death Rides a Horse may be the catchiest post-rock song ever created. The catchy riffs, the builds, and the great guitar work from Sullivan all make it an easy standout on the album.
Russian Circles knows how to make a build span an entire song as well. Enter, the title track, proves their point in a nearly eight minute epic. It features some of the most chaotic sections on the album, creating a remarkable wall of sound for only three members. Every song on the album is a true rollercoaster ride. They grow from the quietest clean guitar strums to huge, dissonant strokes of sound. However, the constant switch from one sound to the other becomes a bit tiring. The album needs a full song of their quieter sound to break up all the constant builds and falls. Despite the tiring switches, every song on the album is fantastic and this album is sure to stand as one of the finest of year, possibly the best post-rock album of the year.'
'If you read the self-written biography of Russian Circles posted on their website, you’ll find their humbleness-be damned sound-description includes thesaurus humping words like gargantuan and narrative, with songs that “flow seamlessly from beautiful soft ambience to truly defined melody to massively thick heaviness with a gradual progression that never leaves you lost.”
Geared up for generic post rock yet?
Don’t be. In a genre chock full of bands trying to rewrite The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place (with each failure hammering another nail into post rock’s ever-closing coffin), Russian Circles do their damned best to be a breath of fresh air. Rather than indulge in the glorious sound-scapes and masturbatory EQ fondling of their peers, Russian Circles make music that legitimately rocks. Gone are the noodly pretentions and dreary periods of ambience. Enter heaps of guitar licks, audible bass, and drums not totally relegated to gratuitous climactic cymbal smashing. Indeed, with their second album Station, Russian Circles attempt to push the boundaries of post rock, cranking the volume and damning the consequences. And on that front, Station is a success. If only Russian Circles hadn’t fallen victim to the plagues of their peers and broken out of their self-imposed shell.
See, Russian Circles clearly know how to write a damn fine tune, and Station rocks that tune six-fold. Four out of Station’s six songs follow a strict formula: Begin with tensioned guitar running riffage, add some furious and/or reserved drumming (which, it's worth noting, makes a star out Dave Turncrantz), bring the house down with a profusely intense climax, and resolve it all gently. The most obvious (and most delicious) culprit of said formula is “Harper Lewis”, which shows Russian Circles nailing all the points of their formula to a T. It has an opening vignette that builds up the anxiety, gives way to a frenzied central climax courtesy of a “dun-dun-dun” breakdown, and then the glorious resolution of the piece, stamping optimism after an adventure of a listen. It’s the record’s best track, and indeed, as the crux to the albums opening half, “Harper Lewis” exemplifies what Russian Circles attempt on Station perfectly: metal-twinged instrumental music that actually approaches the “gargantuan sound” they imposed on themselves. To their credit, Russian Circles imitate said sound well, if to a lesser extent than they do on “Harper Lewis”, throughout Station. Yet even though Station’s greatest strength comes from Russian Circles’ desire to bring something fresh to the table, therein lies the record’s biggest problem.
While the power chord mayhem of “Harper Lewis” is an awesomely welcome take on a dying music, it’s not so incredible as to replicate it numerous times on a single record. On “Youngblood”, the Chicago trio opens with eerie guitar, goes for a hellfire breakdown complete with furious power chords and intense drumming, drops out to lull the listener back into a false sense of security, then throws caution to the wind and lets everything loose again. The album’s title track follows the exact same pattern, making Station get frustratingly similar very quickly, turning a bevy of smartly crafted tracks into a giant mesh of sameness. Ironically, the fact that so much of Station stays strictly within Russian Circles’ fresh sound makes the more standard post rock tunes stick out from the formulaic pieces. “Versus”, for example, is a slow burning piece decked out with delay pedals and the like, and album closer “Xavii” out-Lows Low with its arpeggiated reverb-heavy phrases and minimalist drumming. As a closer to such an exhaustingly intense record, “Xavii” provides the album’s greatest highlight, as it’s the one track of Station that doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard.
That’s the biggest problem with Station: it’s not a bad record, it just tries to be too “gargantuan” for its own good. If Russian Circles can sidestep some of their self imposed clichés, they have the potential to be a much needed force in the post rock scene. With only three members, Russian Circles bring music louder, more furious (and sometimes immensely more interesting) than some of their septet, octet, nontet, etc. peers. It’s clear they have the ability. If they ever figure out how to use it, watch out.'
Summary:Russian Circles craft their best album to date, fusing together elements from their previous records to create a near-perfect album.
'Russian Circles have never been a huge name in the post-rock/post-metal world. In a genre filled with many imitators and bands that seem untouchable, it is hard to stand out in the crowd. Russian Circles broke out onto the scene with a promising debut Enter. Enter didn't make waves in the music world, but it did show that Russian Circles was a band to look out for. Fusing together heavy riffs and undeniable talent, the Chicago trio had a lot going for them. On their sophomore release, Station, the band seemed to have taken two steps back when they ditched their technicality for a more traditional post-rock approach. Unfortunately, Station fell flat because of this, but it did show that the band was more than a one trick pony, and more importantly, they were more than willing to experiment with their sound. With fans on their feet anticipating the bands' latest release, Russian Circles unleashed their greatest album to date, Geneva.
Geneva goes above and beyond any expectations the fans may have had about the album. Russian Circles have taken their crushing riffs and unpredictable rhythms from Enter, and transfused them with the atmosphere and pastoral beauty of Station. It would be easy to compare the band to their peers in the post-rock and post-metal realms, but it wouldn't be fair to the band. While there are somber moments of beauty, reminiscent of Mono, and brutally heavy riffs that recall Pelican-- Russian Circles take everything they are good at and focus their talent and energy to put their unique twist on what you would typically think of as post-rock. Another factor is the size of the band. While many post-rock bands can have as many as twenty-something members (I'm looking at you Godspeed), or the more typical five members, Circles works as a trio. While it might be hard to imagine how a band whose goal is to craft epic compositions can be run with only three members, it may be the bands largest strength. Guitarist Mike Sullivan works like a classical composer, using various techniques to trigger certain emotions out of the listener. From spaced out guitar lines to distorted riffs, Sullivan is incredibly versatile. Drummer Dave Turncrantz is absolutely mind-blowing on Geneva. While Dave's drumming has always been a highlight of Russian Circles' music, on Geneva Dave outdoes himself. Solidifying himself as a permanent member, Brian Cook returns on bass guitar. With a resume of former bands such as Botch and These Arms Are Snakes, Cook is no stranger to music. While Cook only did session work on Circles' previous release, he has composed all of the low-end for Geneva. Also joining the band in certain places of the record is violinist Susan Voelz and cellist Allison Chesley, who do a great job of adding the orchestral feel to the album.
Opening up with the distinct sound of the cello and violin, it is immediately noticeable that this is not your typical Russian Circles album. Booming tribal drums enter before Sullivan lets out a short heavy riff. Sullivan trades off riffs with Cook before each member locks in on a brutal groove. Just as things start to get too loud, the band comes to a stop, and the opener 'Fathom' fades out on cello and violin. 'Fathom' incorporates many of the themes found on Geneva. Things never get too loud. Just as what would typically be a cathartic post-rock climax feels like it is coming on, the band comes to a halt, and the band will fall back onto either guitar or drums. The bass acts like the aggravator, barking at the other instruments to get up to speed. The first three songs are a kick to the face, bringing back memories of Enter. The title track is a balls out display of the band's talents, never letting up in its 5:50 runtime. 'Melee' takes its time to get going, exhibiting a perfect mix between the previous two albums. 'Hexed All' paces the album by giving the listener a rest from the mayhem before segueing into another crusher, 'Malko'. The last three tracks will bring back thoughts of Station, but arranged significantly better. The eight minute epic 'When The Mountains Came to Muhammad' feels like half that. The track uses nearly inaudible news reports and strings to create a feeling of desperation and hopelessness. Ending on another massive track, 'Philos' is about as close to post-rock the band will get. Starting off quite, the band uses the violin and cello to feed off a saddened tone. The track speeds along, coming to a point where a climax would be, but falls again onto drums. Ending on electronic noises and bass feedback, the band has done their job, leaving the listener with thoughts of 'what's next?' and a feeling of resolution.
With the release of Geneva Russian Circles have cemented themselves in the music community. Not quite post-metal, and not quite post-rock, pinning Geneva down to a particular genre is futile. And there is no need to; the music speaks for itself. While their debut showed an up and coming band struggling to find their footing, and their sophomore record taking a completely new approach, Geneva masterfully combines everything the band has done into a near-perfect package. The only question that can be asked is how will the band top this?'
Written byAlex C. Soothsayer www.sputnikmusic.com
Эти парни не зря назвались в честь хоккейного приема, изобретенного в 1980-х сборной СССР. Все элементы слаженной команды у них присутствуют, как в плане сыгранности, так и развития "сюжета" - от медленной "раскатки" к уверенной атаке, затем уход в "оборону", передышка, и снова - по накатанной. Здесь в основе лежат циклично-гипнотичные структуры, вылепленные мощнейшей ритм-секцией, а соло-гитара опутывает их причудливыми и витиеватыми узорами, такими же, какие остаются на льду после тяжелой игры равных соперников.