Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
Written by: LF on 24/02/2017 13:49:16
Russian Circles from Chicago, IL is one of the top post-rock acts around - especially if you like your post-rock crushing and majestic and leaning heavily into post-metal. "Guidance", which came out last year, is their sixth album overall, and their third one on the Sargent House label. As opposed to their previous few records, this one has not been produced by Brandon Curtis (from The Secret Machines) but instead by Kurt Ballou (from Converge).
The album starts harmlessly as the calm "Asa" leads us through a warm and wondrous landscape before turning slowly into the eerie beast that is album highlight "Vorel". It rumbles along with a steadfast beat and long guitar notes before ending with a series of utterly infectious chugging guitar riffs that will no doubt have you headbanging wherever you hear it. Most of the album, however, is not filled with this crushing heaviness that Russian Circles do so convincingly live. Rather, many of the songs leave space for more atmospheric soundscapes to unfold but this doesn't mean that the density of them is not still sky high.
The majestic "Afrika" is a high point for me with its compelling, slowly unfurling melody that immediately gives us the sense of exploring something vast and mysterious. It is uplifting for much of its duration but changes its character along the way and ends in bombastic rhythmic splendor. Mirroring how "Asa" lead us by the hand into the rough world of "Vorel", we are now lead out from the powerful "Afrika" by the gentle "Overboard" that serves as a welcome breather. The remaining songs each stand out in their own ways as well. The busier "Mota" makes a mark with its light guitar riffs and album ender "Lisboa" returns with the apocalyptic vibe that we sensed in "Vorel" but in a slower and more open-sounding, airy version. That leaves just "Calla" as the only semi-forgettable track of this record.
As such, we're dealing with a pretty tightly knit experience. Spanning its 41 minutes, the album delves in and out of huge compositions that are nonetheless very precisely contained in songs that don't exceed six and a half minutes. There is a sense of purpose in the placement of every song and their relationship to each other makes it a stronger listen as a whole than if you were only to check out the songs sporadically. But even though the two aforementioned highlights require their surrounding tracks to really shine, they nevertheless outweigh them as the better parts of the album and thus it is indeed a very solid release but not a mindbending one.
Download: Afrika, Vorel, Mota
For The Fans Of: Pelican, Caspian, If These Trees Could Talk
Release date 05.08.2016