Artist: Russian Circles
Enter, Russian Circles. A three piece act from Chicago who, despite only being together since 2004, have already toured with Tool and Isis, achieved critical acclaim for their debut release and are on the brink of releasing their sophomore effort, Station.
Enter begins simply. Carpe fools you into believing the song is over before it all kicks off again, erupting into a final climax that is calmly brought down by the band, before drummer Dave Turncrantz assumes control of the closing, slamming his foot on the bass pedal in a hypnotic thud.
This sense of being hypnotized continues through to Micah, as guitarist Mike Sullivan introduces a calming riff, before the rest of the band slowly re-introduce themselves. It’s this fantastic balance of calm and extreme heaviness that Russian Circles have got down to a fine art already. Despite the drums being beaten savagely in the background, all you can really concentrate is the beautifully considered notes picked out on the guitar, acting almost as a voice leading you through a chaotic storm. Eventually though, the storm takes over, and the end of the song is just so incredibly dense and overwhelming it crushes you, taking you completely by surprise. And just as quickly as it came, the storm suddenly ends, and the song meanders calmly before the riff off Death Rides a Horse kicks you in the face.
If he does ride a horse, then Russian Circles are clearly of the opinion that this is one pissed off animal. Strange noises abound, and that feeling of oppression increases constantly until it all stops, and it all lightens up again with a fantastically catchy riff that you can’t help but tap your feet to. The song continues this trade off between toe tapping licks to head banging riffery before once again giving into the dark side and going all out with a fantastic drum solo before the carnival closes.
Things all turn very moody on title track Enter, as bassist Colin DeKuiper picks out a deep and dark rhythm. It’s all very understated until once again the drums take charge of the movement of the music, increasing in pace and growing more furious by the second. It almost sounds as if they’re all trying to take control of the song at one point, and then the next all is relinquished just to one instrument before they all join in again.
The calmest song on the album, You Already Did, is a very considered piece of work. The tempo changes quite often, and there is a stronger focus on repetition. The drums beat along like a heartbeat, whilst it feels as if the rest of the band takes a brief breather from the pressurized atmosphere they have created.
The closer, New Macabre, picks up the pace immediately. Riffs are plucked out, going from that sense of doom to a much brighter atmosphere in the space of a few drum beats. However, Russian Circles can’t help but give in to their more negative personas, using the minor key to expert effect and crunching out a sound that is completely devoid of any hope and eventually just completely swallows you up.
Enter is a brilliantly pieced together album, straddling the genre ties of progressive and post rock, without any need for vocals to make the songs capable of worming their way into your head. The atmosphere is intense and certainly very heavy, but it always still conveys an ethereal sense to it. It’s classic songwriting – start off quiet, build it up, then release a cacophony of noise. But when it’s done this well it all feels so fresh and overwhelming. With Russian Circles, we’ve got a band who are capable of immersing you into a world of light and dark, but they are not afraid to give in to their dark side, exploiting a severe and brooding landscape.