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Russian Circles - Guidance CD (album) cover


Russian Circles


Post Rock/Math rock

3.86 | 44 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Before I even start talking about this album I should start by saying that for me Empros was, and simply speaking still is, the best album ever in the genre. And by "genre" I do not necessarily mean post metal (as in that case it would of course invite a lot of strong contenders), instead I mean something like "Sigur rós on acid", as I have no better way to put the level of madness that album represented for me. So, when I heard that after Memorial (which was more mediocre in quality and rather different in style) Russian circles is revisiting the formula they used when putting together that brilliant masterpiece five years ago, I shat bricks just from the sheer idea. Now, the album is here, and I am more than happy to say: they made it! Or, almost made it.

Although not being a fan of track-by-track reviews, this is exactly what I will need to do here, as every track and minute on this album falls into such a beautiful unity that it would be a shame to skip to mention any of it. 'Asa', first of all, is a beautiful ambient opener, bringing back the best downtempo sides of Station and Empros. Of course, in Russian circles' books it is still all about the metal, so when the table is set with 'Asa', the epic 'Vorel' already swoops in to kick it right over, which results in probably the best and most coherent piece of the album. The post-metal rollercoaster rolls right on with two blinders again, as 'Mota' and 'Afrika' show with full pride what the band is the best at: mixing loud and quite in such a way that your heart will pound like it never did since Empros. There are some beautiful, slow build-ups here peaking in brutal riffage and then falling back to earth again with some soothing tunes. There aren't many other bands out there right now, who can find such a harmony between the two worlds, but Russian circles did it again after the mediocre Memorial, marking their way back to the throne. Time for some chill at this point, as the again Empros-like tunes of 'Overboard' slowly give way to some more melancholy, just so that it can again be taken over by one of the most brutal pieces the band has ever done: 'Calla'. Although there are some strong riffs here also, the album at this point starts to pull back a bit, with the tendency then continuing on to the closing track 'Lisbon', which somehow cannot decide whether to be loud or quite, and eventually falls on the ground between two stools. And this is probably the only bad thing I can say about the album, plus the fact maybe that the full album length is not too impressive either (clocking in at just over 40 minutes).

Putting all this aside, this is one outstanding album. Why did I then use the word "almost" when introducing it? Well, partly because of how high the bar has been set with Empros, any maybe also because this Chicago-based trio has chosen a genre (instrumental post metal that is) that might wear out after a while unless they throw in some innovation between each album. And although they did so on Guidance, the striking similarity to Empros and Station might still invite some questions about whether it sounds recycled or not or whether this music wears out with a few listens or will keep hanging on to your playlist. Still, I must hail in front of this trio again for bringing us such an agressive and blinder album, which is pure metal without being hooked up on the riffs too much, instead just being all about the chemistry and the atmosphere again. An album, which is as wicked as Station, which is a bit less dark but definitely more mature than Memorial, and which is playful like Empros but in the dramatic-acid-trips-way again. So, heads up to an album, which might not be a next Empros, but is already on my toplist for this year.

Porcupineapple | 5/5 |


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