Chicago post-rock three-piece Russian Circles have all the brooding, dramatic tension associated with the genre. They also add elements of metal and krautrock which gives their music addition textures and power. Blood Year is their latest album. It was recorded at Steve Albini’s Electric Audio studio by Kurt Ballou of metal band, Converge.
CD £11.49 SH214CD
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Limited Vinyl LP £23.49 SH215LPGL
Limited edition, gold coloured vinyl LP on Sargent House. Comes in a gatefold sleeve.
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Vinyl LP £19.99 SH215LP
Black vinyl LP on Sargent House.
It’s the metal Mogwai!
Russian Circles have long practiced the art of instrumental metal, and have distilled it into three core elements:
1. Atmospheric bits
2. Chuggy bits
3. High bits
Listen to enough post-rock and the introduction of a third element beyond "loud and quiet" is genuinely quite revelatory. The fact that Russian Circle have three gears means their songs can climax, only to climax again.
This is something they use again and again on ‘Blood Year’, and means that someone who hasn’t listened to the band since 2011’s blistering ‘Empros’ (like myself) can jump straight back in for some fun. They do make it very easy, even back then the three-piece (though they sound like there’s more of them than that) were improbably tight, bass chugs and drum rolls always in perfect synchronisation. This is most audible on ‘Arluck’, whose chuggy bit hits about as hard as a punch to the chest.
Compared to at least ‘Empros’, this album sees the band sticking to the lower end of their sound. This works in their favour, when guitarist and bassist are united in bass it feels like the earth’s shaking. But of course, they can’t help themselves. And most of the tracks will see left off into some wailing guitar climax. I’m more interested in the climaxes like that on ‘Sinaia’ which sees the drummer conjuring some incomprehensible rhythm.
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