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Russian Circles

Post Rock/Math rock

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Russian Circles Enter album cover
4.06 | 207 ratings | 16 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Carpe (9:01)
2. Micah (8:03)
3. Death Rides a Horse (5:46)
4. Enter (7:54)
5. You Already Did (8:14)
6. New Macabre (5:18)

Total Time 44:16

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Sullivan / guitars
- Colin DeKuiper / bass
- Dave Turncrantz / drums

- Rob Lowe / piano, Mellotron

Releases information

Artwork: Jonathan Krohn

LP Friction Records ‎- FRIC-031 (2006, US)

CD Flameshovel ‎- DIG035 (2006, US)

Thanks to goldenspiral for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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RUSSIAN CIRCLES Enter ratings distribution

(207 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by GoldenSpiral
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Russian Circles are a post-rock band that isn't afraid to pack in the energy. Their debut album, "Enter", proves just how heavy the often "slow-and-whispy" post-rock genre can really get. Russian Circles provide a surprisingly thick-sounding, layered instrumental attack given their status as a three-piece outfit. This is due to guitarist Sullivan's ability to loop and layer guitar licks and effects, a trick that bassist DeKuiper joins in on occasionally. And as odd as that may sound, the band never fails to keep a song rocking. This album lacks the slow build-ups common to bands like GY!BE and Mono, opting instead to focus on making songs flow dynamically through several sections. A great deal of this band's "heaviness" is due to the skill of the drummer, who plays very dynamically and provides fills, tempo and time signature changes at all the right moments. Their style is very melodic and majestic, yet undoubtably dark and a little sinister.

The albums opens with the crushing "Carpe", a nine-minute journey into heavy instrumental rock, and a worthy introduction to the band. The song flows nicely into the more placid and emotional "Micah", a song that seems to suffer from random bursts of outrage amid a sea of swelling guitar chords, before ending quietly and giving way to the heaviest track on the album, "Death Rides a Horse". The guitar work on this song will impress most metal fans, but may turn off fans of more tranquil music. Still, it is done tastefully and dynamically, and the bass guitar shines as well. The title track plays a bit more like other post-rock bands, taking a full two minutes before getting started, and continuing to build tension, and back off again before coming to a crescendo, yet the drums continue to drive the song at a very quick pace. The last two tracks are also very good, but the six-song, 44 minute album only leaves me wanting more. The album's flaw, however, is that in places it may seem to the average prog listener that they might be "too metal" for post-rock, or that they are too much like non-prog rock but without vocals. These are valid points, but I think they definitely belong here for the variety of reasons I have pointed out in this review. I have never heard anything quite like this.

All in all, a very very strong debut from this brilliant new band. A strong candidate for 4 stars if I ever heard one. I hope to hear more from them in the future!

Review by Prog-jester
4 stars Again 4 stars.

Mainly because nothing have changed. This is good, but I already had 30 minutes of this album from eponymous EP, so additional tracks haven't chenged the whole picture much. The only lack I feel in almost perfect RUSSAIN CIRCLES music is the lack of signatures - most of the tracks are straight-forward 4/4 or 6/8 tunes. I shouldn't accuse a Post-Rock band of this, but I'd like them to become more Prog with their next album ;) Nonetheless, "Enter" is great record - imagine Metal-less PELICAN or a stright-forward INFRONT, both with strong TOOL "dark" feeling. Highly recommended !!!

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I'm always amazed at how poweful a trio can be. I've said that about RUSH for years, but there are many bands now that fit this description.These guys are from Chicago and at times recall another Chicago band named PELICAN. I was actually quite surprised to find out how heavy parts of this record really are. The drumming was another pleasant surprise. This guy can lay down some crazy intricate patterns when he wants to, or just flat out pound away.

"Carpe" is the first song and the heaviness arrives 1 1/2 minutes in and it comes and goes. A catchy melody follows with some excellent drumming before I am wowed by the guitar work in between the riffs. The song settles to a calm 6 minutes in before a galloping rhythm signals a return to the original soundscape. "Micah" opens with a guitar/drum melody that starts slowly and gradually accellerates. There is a great melody with crazy drumming 2 1/2 minutes in. The sound is full 3 minutes in before a calm a minute later settles in. The tempo continues to change like shifting sands. "Death Rides A Horse" is my favourite track on the record.This one hits the ground running with steller IRON MAIDEN-like guitar melodies. Nice. The amazing guitar continues as the song then becomes very fast paced after 3 minutes. The drum work is tremendous before 5 minutes.

"Enter" the title track opens with a cool drum pattern and it's hard not to tap your foot to this one. Heaviness arrives after 3 minutes as we are hit hard ! The spotlight is on the drummer again 4 minutes in and screaming guitar follows. "You Already Did" starts off a little slow until 2 1/2 minutes in as drums and guitar fight to be heard over each other. This sounds incredible ! 5 minutes in the song becomes quiet until it starts up again, giving us 3 minutes of an absolutely amazing sound. "New Macabre" is an uptempo tune with some prominant bass work,not heavy though. Some scorching guitar 2 1/2 minutes in, now it's heavy !

There are no weak songs, and there is some complexity and variety. I am a huge fan of the way they combine different styles on this album. Is this Post-Rock or Post-Metal or Prog-Metal ? Yes it's all of these, and it's all done so incredibly well.

Review by Dim
4 stars Somewhere in between post rock, post metal, and math rock, lurks a band called Russian circles. A rowdy band with a metal drive, but also with a precise and mellow edge, keeping it more on the post rock side. This trio is one of the most impressive post rock groups out there, with layer upon layer of guitar arpeggios, a throbbing bass, and a 100% math rock drummer, you will be blown away by your first listen of enter. Completely against the grind, this instrumental power trio drops the string quintets, but keeps up the dynamics to keep most of their songs interesting, and by the time most of the songs are done, you feel almost exhausted by the sheer power this group holds.

The album starts with my favorite song by the band; Carpe, a nine minute mini epic that blends the three genres I explained earlier perfectly. From the first few seconds, you can already tell you're in for some post rock, but the song gets metal fast, and just takes you for a ride for the next couple of minutes, taking you all over the post rock/metal spectrum, with gradual builds, epic climaxes, and slow breakdowns. This song pretty much reflects most of the album, high energy at most points, though occasionally dropping back down to much more lower maintenance sections, as a kind of breather. Sadly, there really isn't too much diversity in the mood, unlike most post rock, it's not very melancholy (good thing or bad thing, depending on your view). The album is mostly fairly hostile, and fast, leaving a lack of atmosphere, which was a bit of a disappointment to me.

I also wonder how this band does on stage. How are they going to pull off all the layering of guitars with only one guitar player? Well, I'll just have to wait to see them before I pass a judgment on that. Overall, the album is great, especially if you feel like listening to music with energy, but not so much energy to the point of metal (though I do know of some metal bands that have a lower energy level than thee guys). The only fault in the album is the lack of mood/atmosphere, that would completely envelope this album into a masterpiece. Oh well, the band is due an album this year, so we'll have to see what they have in store for us. As for enter, 4 stars.

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars A very dark, brooding, energetic debut from this post-band featuring aggressive playing mixed with interesting noise effects and good old-fashioned creepy atmospherics.

My first impression was that Russian Circles is something like Explosion's in the Sky's bitter, evil little brother-- spewing out angst and rage at that band's soaring melodies and uplifting feel. The songs on Enter are packed with skilled playing and gloomy/combative feelings. The band plays with more energy and gusto than you'll find in some post bands (similar to Isis' heavy stuff), mixing in heaps of complex dynamics, tempo changes, intricate sounds and big, heavy bombast; great songwriting, especially for a first release. Sullivan's guitar shifts timbre wildly throughout, from tinkling atmospheres to crunchy dark destruction; just as interesting, are his guitar's sound effects/feedback. Bassist DeKuiper keeps things brooding and sinister, who along with Turncrantz delivers very busy performances-- especially for post bands which seem to favor slow builds and repetition. A boring, plodding exercise in extended symphonics this is not!

All in all, a very enjoyable foray into metalish atmosphere and instrumental carnage-- highly recommended!

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: NA Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by Negoba
4 stars A Trip Into Calculated Complexity

Russian Circles was my introduction to post / math rock 3 years ago when they allowed free downloads of their New Macabre and Death Rides a Horse. Those songs were in frequent rotation on my newly acquired iPod, and RC virtually became the definition of Math Rock in my mind. (This is a little odd since they're actually at least as much post-metal as they are Math.) I've since purchased their whole album, Enter, and the entire album certainly lives up to the quality of the promo tracks.

The music is all instrumental, moody and incorporates interweaving lines between clean and variously distorted guitars along with the bass and a great variety of intricate drum lines. The guitars are performed by one artist using a loop pedal, and are reproduced in the same way live. Other famous musicians have used the idea just as extensively (jamboy Keller Williams being one of the most famous) but here the effect contributes to both the emotional build and mild feeling of drone that pulls the music together.

Compared to other math rockers, Russian Circles seem to have come from more of a metal background than an indie one. This is heard in their selection of guitar tones, precision of attack, an appreciation of sludge, and more linear time signatures. Just as much Pelican as Don Caballero, RC actually sit in a unique niche that may be appealing to a wider array of listeners than many of their peers on both sides of the aisle.

As others have noted, this album plays just as well continuously as it does as individual songs. There is simply an ongoing flow of circling crests and lulls, which actually never gets boring. Though the music is often quite busy, it always seems intentional. Very little seems chaotic or free form, though these compositions were almost certainly conceived during improvisational jams. However, I believe that the band also spent an equal amount of time organizing these ideas into formal, dynamic songs.

This album may indeed represent a masterpiece within its own specific genre, but it is not as musically expansive as the symphonic classics or even instrumental masterpieces like Anglagard or Mahavishnu Orchestra. It is certainly excellent and recommended, and seems like a great entry point into the math rock realm for metalheads.

Review by JLocke
4 stars Russian Circles is one of those bands that prove Post-Rock is a genre worthy of being considered 'progressive' by this site. I think they are going to be among my top bands of this persuasion for quite some time. Enter was my first dose of them, and it is quite an impressive full-length debut.

This band is a three-piece, yet their full, crunching music makes them seem as mighty and numerous as any five-piece could hope to sound. Perhaps it's ll i the attitude, but I'm willing to bet these guys spent a lot of time in the studio making sure every instrument sounded as good and clear as possible. While I'm not much of a production nut, myself (I've always found it illogical to judge an album based on it's budget rather than the music itself), I have to admit the effect wouldn't be nearly the same had the production values not been as high as they are, hear.

It's entirely instrumental, of course, and because of that the instruments themselves take on a very vocal-like duty quite a lot. The melodies and such are provided through the guitar, and it gives the music more depth than a purely instrumental-minded band could conjure. Likewise, had vocals been included, this music wouldn't be as open and complex as it sounds sometimes, I suspect. Now, I for one am a huge fan of singers, even where complex music is concerned, but one cannot deny that the lack of vocals frees up the music considerably, allowing each instrument to have a shining moment.

All elements are worthy of praise; the drums, bass and guitar sections. Each musician plays his part beautifully, and this being the style of music that it is, allows them to approach their instruments from a standpoint of not so much 'Rock 'n' Roll', but more so a focus on atmosphere, layering and filling of gaps to create a wall of sound. Oh, there still are straight-up rockin' parts on the album, but it is paired with a much more mood-driven approach to the composition, which makes all good Post-Rock worth listening to, if you are as much a fan of atmospheric, dreamy, soundscape music as I am.

It is true what my fellow reviewers have already said about the music bordering on Metal at times, but please do not let that deter you from what could be a very magical listening experience. I'm always wary of going all out and recommending Post-Rock music here, since so many Prog fans don't consider it 'Prog enough', but honestly, this IS progressive music in approach, style and attitude. I have no doubt that the musicians in this band intend to push their own envelope forward as well as music itself, so you should at least consider giving this album a shot. if you enjoy heavier music, and aren't too concerned with every band you listen to sounding like Yes or King Crimson, I think there is a lot you will love, here. Complex in its own way, but maybe not quite as intricate as some here may want, Enter is an enjoyable listen that certainly ranks among my top Post-Rock listening experiences.

Happy listening.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I introduced myself to Russian Circles after hearing that the band was planing to come to my hometown for a gig in April. Unfortunately this gig was canceled and the band only stopped by Denmark without giving the rest of the Scandinavian fans a chance to see them in all their glory. All disappointment aside, I still have to be grateful for this set of events since it introduced me to this instrumental trio and particularly their highly praised 2006 release Enter!

The Post Rock/Math Rock genre is really difficult for me to gasp in the more tradition sense where a few spins of an album give me guidelines as to what I think of a particular release. This doesn't really happen and instead I tend to appreciate the music on a more personal level where the material is tested upon its ability to withstand repeated listens and the appeal of me wanting to revisit it. This is something that I definitely can say about Russian Circles' Enter since it offers a 40+ minute steady stream of music that I can listen to on almost any occasion without making me feel tired of the music. The album has a continuous flow to it where every track overlaps the next one almost as if I was listening to a multi-suite epic where moods and tempos shift while the overall compositional tone stays the same all the way to the end of the album.

From what I've noticed, this album is just an extended version of Russian Circles' self-title EP released a year earlier. But the two new tracks that have been added make a lot of sense to be featured together with the original 4 compositions. Especially since I love the way Micah unfolds, making it a perfect transition between Carpe and Death Rides A Horse.

This album should be a great treat for both the already established fanbase of the Post Rock/Math Rock genre but also to newcomers, since the relatively short running time and extensive variety of compositions should appeal to almost all tastes.

***** star songs: Micah (8:03) New Macabre (5:18)

**** star songs: Carpe (9:01) Death Rides A Horse (5:46) Enter (7:54) You Already Did (8:15)

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Russian Circles are a Post Rock band from the important Post Rock city of Chicago, but their music contains elements of Math Rock and Post Metal as well. This is the only album I have heard from them so far so I can't compare other albums, but on their debut Enter they are mostly in Post Rock territory. Being a trio of guitar / bass / drums they have a fuller sound due to guitarist Mike Sullivan's use of looping and other effects. Sometimes he can sound like three guitarists playing at once. The drummer is very good and the bass sometimes sounds like a guitar, not just playing 'bass' parts.

The album opens with the faded in arpeggios of "Carpe," a song you can listen to here on PA. After a little bit of heaviness the song goes into a section with African-styled snare-rim oriented drumming that some Math bands like to use. This section is fairly calm and melodic. Slowly it turns into a louder and faster section with some disco style hi-hat accents in the drumming. Later on some melodic bass playing as the mood is atmospheric before getting louder and more typical Post Rock sounding. "Micah" starts out very Mogwai sounding with the arpeggios and the drumming. Later on some tom-tom centred drumming and more melodic arpeggios. Again it gets more Mogwai sounding when it gets loud and heavy. Some fast hi-hat and bass playing before more guitar arpeggios show up.

"Death Rides A Horse" stands out from the other songs by its sheer intensity and heaviness. This song is much closer to metal and math rock. Everytime I hear the beginning of this song I am reminded of Iron Maiden. Metalheads would love a song such as this. Love the scratching of the guitar strings, it just adds to the overall effect of the song. Around 1 1/2 minutes goes into a bouncy New Wave style beat while rhythmic bass and math-y guitars work around it. After 3 minutes goes into a straight metal riff including some guitar runs. I like the drumbeat near the end; actually there is nothing but drums for awhile before the track ends on a loud, distorted note.

After the intense "Death..." we get the more subdued title track. The beginning of this track reminds me of Explosions In The Sky. Turns more rhythmic with great drumming later. Around 5 minutes builds up to a great part with a very muscular and aggressive bass sound. Some lovely Mellotron flute ends the song. That was a surprise the first time I heard this album. Pounding tom-toms segues the title track into "You Already Did." This song is more in the Mogwai/EITS vein but the drumming is a little more complex than either band.

Album closer "New Macabre" has maybe the most interesting drumming on the album. It varies a lot. The guitar and bass interplay (and drumming too in fact) sounds a lot like Tool towards the end. A very good album and recommended to fans of instrumental rock music. This will get a 3.5 from me but I'll round it up to 4 stars.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Though I like this sub-genre of prog, it is one which tests me within the ratings system: I find it difficult to award straight-up instrumental Post Rock/Math Rock five stars or "masterpiece" status. The only times I've found myself doing so are when the artist and/or particular album offers something really new or different within the subgenre--e.g. the vocals of SIGUR ROS's Agaetis Byrjun, ULVER's Shadows of the Sun, and AUTUMN CHORUS's The Village to the Vale, or the synths and melodies of GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT's All Is Violent, All Is Bright. I've been close to offering five stars to favorites by COLLAPSE UNDER THE EMPIRE, DATURAH, RED SPAROWES, CASPIAN and GIFTS FORM ENOLA, but the 'monotony' of the genre's structures and sound base has kept me from doing so--despite the continued presence of songs and albums by these groups on my regular playlists. The same goes for my reaction to RUSSIAN CIRCLES: creative bass playing and guitar looping effects, great sound and energy, but, alas! they sound like--dare I say it--every other Post Rock/Math Rock band.

Five star songs are "Carpe," "Enter," "You Already Did."

Review by Warthur
4 stars Released at around the same time as Cult of Luna's Somewhere Along the Highway muddied the line between post-rock and post-metal from the post-metal side of the fence, Russian Circle's debut album sees them doing much the same thing from the post-rock side, with the band incorporating riffs of a crushing heaviness adopted by few post-rock bands (as opposed to post-metal bands) since Mogwai dropped My Father My King on an unsuspecting public. Russian Circles might fall into the same old quiet/loud formula of most post-rock and post- metal, but they prove themselves adept at the quiet and willing to go louder than many of their peers when the composition calls for it.
Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This is the first full album (having released an E.P. previously with some of the same songs as this album on it) by the band Russian Circles. This is typically a band with only 3 members, but the sound is such a full sound for only 3 members. The style is somewhere between Post-rock and Post-metal in that most of the songs are heavy. The sound is somewhat similar to Pelican, only I think it is a little more accessible. It doesn't have the wall of sound style that is typical of Pelican, but is more inventive and less formulaic.

The musicianship is great and so is the production. There are some technical passages and some great hooks throughout. The sound is a little too similar, but there is more variation than what you would hear from other post rock or post metal bands like Yndi Halda or Pelican, probably leaning more towards the Mogwai sound, but consistently heavier. A few of the tracks are a little bit less heavy like "Micah" and "You Already Did", but even they have a degree of heaviness to them.

In my own personal opinion, I find the music on this first album quite enjoyable. I like the weightiness of the feel, a little dark with occasional bursts of light. I would have preferred a little more variety, but the songs do get better after repeated listenings and it is easier to pick out differences in the tracks than it is with Pelican's music.

In all, it's a good start for Russian Circles, who would become more adventurous as time goes on. Lovers of post rock and post metal should find plenty to love here and should listen to this band. They have toured with Pelican, Tool, and several other heavy well-known bands. Excellent addition to any prog rock collection. 4 stars.

Latest members reviews

5 stars when i listing to this album, i never listening just to one song, i all ways listing to the whole album from the beginning to the end! its an amazing dark and beautiful album, from the new American trio Russian circles. ENTER is one of my favorite albums ever. in my opinion its more of a post ... (read more)

Report this review (#169423) | Posted by bluesynight | Thursday, May 1, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I just got this album and i was blown away by it. Only 3 musicians in this band and their sound is so big. Russian Circles are more srtaight foreword than some other post rock bands like Mogwai, Isis,or Red Sparowes. Their music is heavy but it is a very clean. Every song is standout track, but th ... (read more)

Report this review (#150522) | Posted by JROCHA | Tuesday, November 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Russian Circles is merely an expression of post rock turning hard creating a very original sound. I'm really impressed by the effort and work they put to this album but sincerely I can't give a 5. I'm really a fan of hard rock music and post rock and these guys blend this two elements to creat ... (read more)

Report this review (#108798) | Posted by | Thursday, January 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I by no means assumed an opening band to take me away in their music the way Russian Circles did. I did not even expect a sound like theirs at the show with Lords and Daughters playing, who would have thought. Even my little sXe and scene hardcore friends were clamoring over how good this band ... (read more)

Report this review (#93026) | Posted by Soultech | Monday, October 2, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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