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Russian Circles

Post Rock/Math rock

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Russian Circles Empros album cover
3.87 | 93 ratings | 4 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 309 (8:49)
2. Mladek (7:40)
3. Schipol (6:16)
4. Atackla (7:27)
5. Batu (10:06)
6. Praise Be Man (4:27)

Total Time 44:45

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Sullivan / guitars
- Brian Cook / bass, vocals (6)
- Dave Turncrantz / drums

- Phil Karnats / accordion, cello

Releases information

Produced by Brandon Curtis & Russian Circles ; Brandon Curtis - Mixing

Artwork: Dave Turncrantz (photo)

LP Sargent House ‎- SH 067 (2011, US)
CD Sargent House ‎- SH 066 (2011, US)

Thanks to Lynx33 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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RUSSIAN CIRCLES Empros ratings distribution

(93 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

RUSSIAN CIRCLES Empros reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After three albums that featured distinct grayish looking album covers it was quite a change of pace to look at the warm and fuzzy artwork of Empros. Still, the big question is whether the colorful album cover could be an indication of the changes that the band has undergone since their 2009 release Geneva. Let's jump right in and find out!

I was actually already familiar with the two opening tracks since Russian Circles have performed 309 and Mladek throughout their 2011 European summer tour. 309 made quite an impression on me in a live setting seeing that it clearly showed a continuation of the themes that were featured on Station with it's crushing guitar soundscapes and the tight interplay between the drum and bass. It's really great to hear that these tracks sound almost as great on Empros as they did live but the biggest surprises are still ahead.

Schipol was clearly this album's highlight for me since Russian Circles fill this 6 minute slot with some of the most gorgeous melodic and atmospheric music yet. The first half of the track is a buildup that finally bursts into a passionate take of the previous themes but with more energy added into the mix. Even though Atackla seems to have become somewhat of a concert staple in the band's supporting tour for Empros, it doesn't grab me as much as Schipol. Still, I admire the band's ambition of creating gorgeous post-rock compositions.

Things turn slightly for the worse with Batu. This is a great track that unfortunately stops 6 minutes into it's 10 minutes running time and the remaining 4 minutes are filled with a prolonged drone effect leading into Praise Be Man. I kind of understand that the band wanted to create a buildup for the album's final track, since it's quite a different composition compared to what we've come to expect for Russian Circles so far, but filling a 44 minute album with 4 minutes of atmospheric gibberish is just not something I can support. Luckily Praise Be Man is clearly a track worth waiting for since it features first vocal performance on a Russian Circles album. Even though Brian Cook's vocal performance is a bit muddled within all the sound layers, it does have an engaging effect that becomes even more powerful once the bass comes in with a loud distortion tone right at the end of the track. Could this possibly be a sign of the things to come?

Empros is another excellent album from Russian Circles which shows growth and progression while still giving us, the fans, exactly what we all came here for. The album might not be as heavy as Enter, nor as conceptual as Station but that doesn't mean that it can't hold it's own. On contrary, Empros gives me a feeling that the trio knows exactly what they're doing and the next logical step in the evolution of their sound is going to be an interesting one!

***** star songs: 309 (8:49) Schipol (6:16)

**** star songs: Mladek (7:40) Atackla (7:27) Praise Be Man (4:27)

*** star songs: Batu (10:06)

Review by Horizons
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Adding A Heart To A Deserving Machine

Russian Circles have always been a band with a more human approach to Math-Rock. Their musicianship never sounds stale or compromised while being apart of a very mechanic genre. Empros triumphs with glorious dynamics and apocalyptic soundscapes. Be prepared to be crushed and preserved with this release.

Empros embodies a musical direction that has been thriving more and more after each previous Russian Circles album. The guitars are devastatingly heavy, the bass will shatter your sense of calm, and the drums are smooth yet unrelenting. This batch of metal soaked math-rock never feels disjointed or unsatisfactory. The songs are a balance between darkness and light, and therefor immerse you into a cryptically gorgeous album. Enter the bastion of Empros and leave with nothing but a well-deserved rush.

309: The album's opener provides the perfect introduction into the band's perfected direction. The song erupts into an incredibly dark jam, it continues to reappear throughout the song after each of the more personable section. For a while the guitar provides an unfathomably thick backdrop, while the bass and drums pass off leading with hi-hat grooves and upfront bass lines or the familiar crushing passages. After the madness shortly dies off the bass leads the song into an awesome finale.

Mladek: Seeing a more melodic side of Empros, Mladek begins with a clean, catchy guitar riff and Dave Turncrantz blessing the guitars' furrow with a fantastic wave of chops that are both flashy and rock solid. The guitarist, Mike Sullivan, switches back and forth from clean to a distorted tone as the song progresses. The song finishes with a revision of the initial theme, fantastic and strong.

Schipol: The sullen tune that really gives Empros a human touch, Schipol is a beautiful voyage that escorts you to a equally beautiful cataclysm. Dominated with a acoustic guitar surrounded with a conflicted electric guitar, sparse drumming, and soft bass to provide the serene tune with additional depth. Russian Circles provide an anticipated performance that is heartfelt and completely violent. A highlight of their career.

Atackla: With a similar embrace as Schipol, Atackla doesn't really catch my attention as much as the previous song. Though it catches air for takeoff much quicker than Schipol. The drum ushers in a darker tone and the guitars really are breathtaking. The atmosphere is perfectly constructed and built upon well.

Batu and Praise Be Man: Batu emerges like a proud phoenix. The band leaves ashes in it's trail. It really amazes me how well Russian Circles mixes metal, post-rock and mathy tendencies. The song paints a pictures of a honorable death. The feeling of weakening and a dissolving power becomes tangible every time i hear this song. It's unbelievable. The ash left leaves the listener with an airy reminder of the destruction. Thought the ending may seem too long, the idea is flawless. Effortlessly, Praise Be Man begins the end of Empros. Drone effects are heard at the beginning and end, along with another acoustic guitar passage. The vocals from the bassist, Brian Cook, fit perfectly and are quite good.

Empros is an impressive album just because of the story the music tells, something that is very rare with a instrumental band.

Review by Warthur
4 stars On Empros Russian Circles take their brand of post-rock in a notably heavier and more apocalyptic direction. I'd say it sticks to the post-rock side of the post-rock/post-metal boundary, but on the other hand there's enough sludgey influences from the likes of Neurosis or Pelican that post-metal fans will find the album worth their attention too. Looming, foreboding, and with a sound so rich it's hard to believe it's just three guys making it, Empros is a timely reminder that despite its brief period of fashionableness having faded by now, there's still a space out there for Godspeed You Black Emperor!-esque apocalyptic post-rock, and Russian Circles are some of the best purveyors of it around.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Listening diary 26th September, 2021: Russian Circles - Empros (post-rock/metal, 2011) This was an incredibly formative album for me as a youth. Bit random, I know, as it's not really considered their best or even an important album, but it was a landmark for me. This was the first instrumental r ... (read more)

Report this review (#625879) | Posted by Gallifrey | Saturday, February 4, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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