Thursday 1 September 2016


GenresPunk / Rock / Post-Rock / Post-Hardcore / Post-Metal / Alternative / Doom / Ambient / Instru-metal / Prog / Math Rock
Related artists: Botch, These Arms Are Snakes, Roy, Behead The Prophet NLSL, Mouth Of The Architect, Onalaska, Sumac, Trial, Bloodiest, Grayson, RLYRThe Like Young, Dakota/Dakota and Riddle Of Steel.
CountryChicago, Illinois USA
Years Active2004-present
Song: "Death Rides a Horse"
Album: "Enter"
Year: 2006
For fans ofOmega Massif, Pelican, Finger Of God, Ornaments, Gifts From Enola, Isis, Mogwai, Godspeed, You! Black Emperor, Town Portal, Don Caballero, Maserati, Grand Détour, Black Clouds, Glasir, Red Sparowes and Tomydeepestego.
Label(s): Self Released / Flameshovel / Black Records / Hewhocorrupts / Friction Records / Suicide Squeeze / Sargent House / Daymare Recordings
This post's artist is from the June 2016 Mix. This is track #10.
You can download: the August Mix#8 right here or get the new September 2016 Mix#9 here.

I first began listening to RUSSIAN CIRCLES in 2006 once realizing that they were post-Dakota/Dakota (an amazing math-rock instrumental band) and Riddle Of Steel (who wrote the catchiest tunes ever). Honestly, RUSSIAN CIRCLES sound just as the progression of Dakota/Dakota would be expected to sound like, so if you haven't checked out either of their previous bands be sure to do so or you're doing yourself an injustice. RUSSIAN CIRCLES take a progressive approach on the Pelican instru-metal formula, incorporating their own mega chugs layered over spacey finger tapping and always interesting drums and bass. They also play on both sides of the proverbial post-hardcore fence, dabbling in the serene as well as the prodigiously heavy. The band's sound has evolved over the last decade, as have the members, but they've never strayed from their roots and continue to push themselves and the instru-metal envelope.

The band's debut record (which includes the 2004 'Demo' tracks) was released in 2006 and called 'Enter', which opens with "Carpe" that awakes from a slumbering dream after 48 seconds with isolated guitars that are slowly added to. At 1:53 everything comes together and then shifts into a serene, rolling groove and at 3:45 the song reaches the end of the cliff and begins its descent into darkness. Track 3 is "Death Rides a Horse", and if it isn't the best RUSSIAN CIRCLES ever, it's certainly the top track on this album. After an atmospheric lead in, the song goes full tilt electrified Dakota/Dakota at 45 seconds with awesome finger tapping that transitions to a dark and heavy section which is reminiscent of the utter annihilation of a town by...Godzilla? Sure, why not. Following this, the song moves back to the grooves and at 2:40 adds spacey guitars mixed with stop-start bass and drums that is truly exceptional and reaches its climax at about 3:20. The climax then lasts for three more minutes! Fuck me, that's one hell of an orgasm. The title track "Enter" is the last song of note here, which is much more somber and depressing than the first two discussed, but is still danceable with huge swing at the end...or maybe I should say entire last half!

I will assume that 2006's 'Re-Enter' 7" are the b-sides that didn't fit on 'Enter', as they were released the same year, sound like the same session and the songs themselves tie into the LP. "Upper Ninety" is like a subdued palm muting factory while "Re-Enter" is a bouncy, bassy song that starts hovering around the listener just before the two-minute mark as it begins its eerie descent.

It was right around the time 'Station' was let loose on the public that founding bassist Brian Cook's involvement in RUSSIAN CIRCES began. In case you didn't know, Brian Cook is a god who has played integral roles in the following amazing bands: BotchThese Arms Are SnakesRoy and Mouth Of The Architect, to name a few. The newly rejuvenated RUSSIAN CIRCLES moved passed their first record which was more or less a collection of cool parts while 2008's 'Station' harnessed the power of logical song progressions, and was both a step forward and back at the same time. As an album I find it intermittent with great songs mixed with relatively boring songs. The great songs are just that, though, ultimately fantastic. Track 2's "Harper Lewis" rises from the soil like an apparition in a graveyard that begins to open its wretched mouth at 2:39 harnessing cataclysmic chugs before exploding into a cluster of bright, twinkly notes. The song comes back around for a second run at the listener from 4:40 onward, primarily with more straightforward, chorded instrumentation. Following this is the splendid title track "Station" that dabbles heavily in the patented palm mutes that I know and love RUSSIAN CIRCLES for. At 1:32 the song moves into its second phase of driving, lazer beam-like preciseness that then fires in and out of heavy chugs and slow, ambient bits. "Youngblood" is another phenomenal track chock full of thick, driving palm mutes and spacey soloing.

Most likely because of Brian Cook's involvement in both bands, RUSSIAN CIRCLES contributed one song to a 'These Arms Are Snakes split' 12" in 2008. The track, "Philios" is a lush soundscape of guitars with minimal bass and drums that brings Godspeed, You! Black Emperor and Mogwai to mind

2009's 'Geneva' is a decent album with some very good songs that have been cut in length and/or trimmed of fat when compared to previous endeavors, as is indicated when the record gets started with "Fathom", a short arc that is neither soft nor heavy but falls somewhere in between. The title track "Geneva" is as pulverizing as you'll get on this record, and that's pretty dang pummeling (especially that bass slap in the face at 2:22), while "Melee" takes the reigns next for 7:39 worth of atmospheric instrumental music likely influenced heavily by Mogwai. "Malko" is another stellar track worth mentioning, as it goes full tilt at about 1:40 and doesn't let up until the life has been exhausted from it at 4:43.

In 2011 the band released 'Empros', a mutated beast that retains much of what RUSSIAN CIRCLES has been perfecting but injects more experimentation and removes the palm-mute-meets-chug-moves-to-ambient-part formula. "309" sets things off in a fantastic direction as the ultimate shroud of darkness under the guise of a song, while "Mládek" produces maximum chugs, most notably at 5:07 following a lot of evil, and "Batu" is a slow, methodical and jarring experience that booms at three minutes at completely dissolves by 6:16.

2013's 'Memorial' was a record that was the first RUSSIAN CIRCLES album I did not purchase on cd. It took some time, but I recently jammed it and realized I was silly to pass over this for almost three years. It opens with the fantastic "Deficit" which, if Aaron Turner had laid down some vocals, you'd have sworn was an Isis b-side. "1777" ascends and descends a phenomenally pure, curved arc of atmospheric and driving post-hardcore. "Burial" is just that, the auditory equivalent of excavating a hole for a rotting corpse, while "Ethel" is the exact opposite, floating freely with a feeling of relief, joy and harmony - plus, that finger tapping is sick. "Lebaron" is 4:37 of post-hardcore, sludge and basically the traditional RUSSIAN CIRCLES sound and could have ended up on 'Station' without anyone blinking an eye. The closer, single and widely discussed song "Memorial" features Chelsea Wolfe doing some soft, somber vocals that mesh well with the very ambient track, but I'm glad the collaboration was limited to a single piece of work.

The newest album, released this year, is titled 'Guidance' and the overall feel is how I've pretty much felt since their debut, it's good, it's RUSSIAN CIRCLES, but it's not quite as memorable as the 'Enter'. That being said, this is still a very good record and well worth your time. Let's do a quick overview, shall weÉ. "Asa" is a very somber opener relying on ambient waves as an intro to the album. "Vorel" follows, being on the more aggressive side but does so with a blanket of sound instead of the generally used chugs and palm mutes. "Mota" begins in a plodding manner but brings out the space lasers at about the halfway point, blasting away until its close at 6:32. "Afrika" isn't much different than its predecessor and is what you'd expect from an instru-metal track. "Overboard" is next up to bat, swinging in slow motion, with "Calla" nearly matching that pace but bringing sludgy metal to the mix and heaving breakdowns that, by the end, make this one of the most pounding and terrifying songs RUSSIAN CIRCLES have ever written. The album closes with "Lisboa", a sprawling and dirty denouement that is a bit less interesting due to the fact that the end of "Calla" is gargantuan.

I've included the rare/non-bandcamp EPs in a zip file here. And there we have it, over a decade of incredible releases from an incredible band. Keep it up, fellas.


Click )==>here<==( to download the band's rare releases  in mp3 form.

2004 - Russian Circles cdrEP (download in rarities zip here)

2006 - Enter cd/12"LP (stream/buy here)
2006 - Upper Ninety 7"EP (download in rarities zip here)

2008 - Station cd/12"LP (stream/buy here)
2008 - These Arms Are Snakes split 12"EP (download in rarities zip here)

2009 - Geneva cd/2x12" LP (stream/buy here)

2011 - Empros cd/12"LP (stream/buy here)

2013 - Memorial cd/12"LP (stream/buy here)

2016 - Guidance cd/12"LP (stream/buy here)


(2006) RUSSIAN CIRCLES - "Death Rides a Horse" (from 'Enter')

(2006) RUSSIAN CIRCLES - "Re-Enter" (from 'Upper Ninety')

(2008) RUSSIAN CIRCLES - "Youngblood" (from 'Station')

(2008) RUSSIAN CIRCLES - "Philios" (from 'These Arms Are Snakes' split)

(2009) RUSSIAN CIRCLES - "Geneva" (from 'Geneva')

(2011) RUSSIAN CIRCLES - "Mládek" (from 'Empros')

(2013) RUSSIAN CIRCLES - "Ethel" (from 'Memorial')

(2016) RUSSIAN CIRCLES - "Calla" (from 'Guidance')


RUSSIAN CIRCLES out of print rarities mp3 download / additional links


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