30 August 2016

Russian Circles - Guidance

This blog is looking at Post-Rock/Metal group, Russian Circles.  The band take their name from a drill exercise used in ice hockey, they were formed in 2004 and the current line-up on this album is Mike Sullivan on guitar, Dave Turncrantz on drums and Brian Cook on bass.  They have released one ep, two singles and five albums previous to this one, which is obviously their sixth.  I will be honest, I cannot remember hearing anything about these guys until June 2016, when one of my friends mentioned that they had a new album coming out, he is a guy that I can usually trust when it comes to larger than life music and it is with no predetermined expectations or ideas that I start this review.

Starting off this album is "Asa", this is a gentle song that begins with a gentle buzz of feedback and then some clear guitar work and a dream-like song that sounds like it could have been conceived at the high of summer or just as the leaves are starting to turn to autumn (fall for our American brethren).  Towards the end of the song, the pitch changes and a sound like static and locusts fills the song as it merges into the second song of the album, "Vorel".  The drums and bass add a sense of anticipation to the feedback and drone that begins the song, adding menace and a disturbance to proceedings.  It up's the ante once more with an ever rising driving towards the end of this song, each time you think it has peaked, it just drops another riff that ups the game once more until the euphoria cannot be contained any more.  As it fades out, the song merges into "Mota" which might not be as explosive to begin with, but it certainly adds the drama and intensity to the work at the riffs and patterns start to build.  It has an oriental feeling to the music on this one, some of the pitches and drops are mind blowing and the song is one of the best pieces of post rock/metal I have heard in years.

The fourth song on this album is called "Afrika", which continues this post rock odyssey with a great amount of flair, style and collective riffage that makes this genre so interesting for me.  It feels like a lull after the beginning trio in a way, not quite reaching the same heights in terms of style and intensity; but that is to be expected and you cannot keep that sort of groove up without spending all the quality too soon.  "Afrika" has its moments, it has some stand out sections around the 4:30 mark which make the hairs on your neck stand to attention, but it feels like it is just giving you that little rest till the next explosion.   "Overboard" starts off with a reflective start of the guitar in the night, the reverb of the strings adding notes in the silence as it moves very slowly along and starts to loop the riff around you.  With a methodical pace and at some points it has bells that jingle in the back ground, "Overboard" is one of the surprise tracks of the album that delivers all the beauty of the early songs, but without relying on the explosive distortion peddle and it is one of the jewels on this record.  It soothes you, lets your mind wonder and rest for a while.  The penultimate song is called "Calla" which gives off a nautical vibe, it feels like the song is being used as a metaphor for a storm and the riffs are coming on like waves.  I have no idea if that is what the band were aiming for or if it is even remotely true, but that is the vibe that I am taking from this song.  As the final notes fade from "Calla", we are introduced into the slow and depressive world of "Lisboa".  Going between mournful reflective passages and huge riffs, the song gives the album a great parting shot - a dramatic and beautiful song to end this album.

This is a great post-rock album, each of the song is a gem and the work well as a collective.  The band just keep adding riff upon riff that makes everything, changing simple songs into jewels.  It does peak a little too early and that does hurt the later songs a little bit; but overall this is one of the best post-anything albums I have heard in 2016.  Definitely worth checking out, sooner rather than later.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Mota
You can purchase Guidance from Amazon here.

You can visit the Russian Circles website here.

You can purchase Guidance from the Russian Circles Bandcamp page here.

You can follow the activities of Russian Circles on Facebook here.

You can stream Guidance on Deezer here.

You can stream Guidance on Spotify here.

You can stream Guidance on Tidal here.

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