It's been a while since we have checked in with heavier post-rock band Russian Circles. I know that they have sometimes called "post metal" in the press, but really, is there anything after metal? No, there is just MORE METAL!!!!! They are out with a new album, their 7th, 8th if you count the 2017 live record, and you know we do!
Blood Year gets off to a melodic start with Hunter Moon as the guitar tingles lightly, ringing in an open expanse, chiming and echoing, the bass a faint counterpoint. The two meander prettily for about two minutes, when suddenly drummer Dave Turncrantz kicks in with a drum solo.
A solo that is oddly reminiscent of the intro to Infected by The The. Just when i start to expect to hear Matt Johnson bellow, “I’ve got too much energy, to switch off my miiiiiiiind”, the rest of the band comes in and this tears along at a blistering pace. It’s a really good song, but godsdammit after that momentary connection, i have a strong desire to hear Matt Johnson belt it out with these guys laying down the music. How awesome would that be? (Alas, Matt's retired now. So i will just wait for the inevitable mashup to show up on the Internet when some DJ realizes how those drum riffs sync up.)
Anyway the song is called Arluck and it is intense drumming and some serious power riffing. Really great.
On Milano Russian Circles create a big roaring sound, the guitar seeming to circle back in on itself through intense power chording.
Kohokia gets nicely riffy in the middle, like a heavier Explosions in the Sky. Turncrantz has a heavier drum hand than Chris Hrasky though. Also, there is some echoing distortion on the guitar during the "choruses" that is really impressive. I don't know what pedals Mike Sullivan is using here, but it sounds really intense and satisfying. This is my favorite on this record.
They slow things down a bit for Ghost on High, which is a lighter tune. The guitar is picked lightly and not grinding. Brian Cook does some kind of little trilling bass riff that is very nice. This is pretty, not heavy, but still good. But that is a sort of intro to Sinaia, which carries over the bass riff and adds in a high tremolo on the guitar as the sums slowly build.
And finally the record ends with Quartered, a song built out of fast driving power chording, the guitar a grinding blur that sounds like a wall of feedback, a noise with only a vague shape, like something out of A Place To Bury Strangers. The drumming and the deep bass riff guide the noise along. This is a really great end to this record.
So i find this album satisfying and enjoyable. Fans of instrumental hard riffing might not find much to enjoy here. But eight albums in, chances are you know whether or not this will appeal to you. Fans of the band will enjoy.