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Russian Circles

Post Rock/Math rock

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Russian Circles Blood Year album cover
3.90 | 12 ratings | 1 reviews | 17% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hunter Moon (2:20)
2. Arluck (6:33)
3. Milano (6:35)
4. Kohokia (7:18)
5. Ghost on High (2:34)
6. Sinaia (7:30)
7. Quartered (6:39)

Total Time 39:29

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Sullivan / guitar
- Brian Cook / bass
- Dave Turncrantz / drums

Releases information

CD Sargent House ‎- SH 214 (2019, US)
LP Sargent House ‎- SH 215-CG (2019, US)
Digital album

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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RUSSIAN CIRCLES Blood Year ratings distribution

(12 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RUSSIAN CIRCLES Blood Year reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Russian Circles was one of the first post rock bands that I heard, and I noticed right away how their sound seemed to be on the dark and somewhat heavy side of the genre. This band has been around since 2004 and have built quite a reputation and fan base. They come out of Chicago, IL and have released nine full length albums since then, including their August 2019 released "Blood Year". The band has pretty much always operated as a trio, and such is the case in this album, with only the bass player being the only non-origianal member of the band. However, Brian has been with the band since before the release of their 2nd album in 2008, so many consider him as good as an original member. Mike Sullivan still provides his guitar work which utilizes loops to thicken the sound, and he has the knack to faithfully reproduce this sound in a live setting. Dave Turncrantz continues to provide his talent for anchoring the sound with drums, and as such, the music continues to please long-time fans.

"Hunter Moon" (2:20) slowly crescendos from the silence and moves along mournfully with jangly guitar and sustained bass. The track acts as a quiet introduction to the album. "Arluck" (6:33) immediately starts with a pounding drum pattern which pauses while the bass builds up steam. The drums start back in with their fast pattern and then the guitar comes in by putting down a bottom layer, then harmonizing over that layer. The bass takes over again and begins to use a chunky riff to build intensity. Mike then answers with more guitar patterns while the drums continue their pattern. There is more layer building with guitar harmonics, then everything except for the guitar stops. At this time, an atmospheric and sustained layer calls out above the jangly repeated note pattern. At 5 minutes, the band joins in again and as the track pushes forward, the intensity grows even more and then another heavier level of guitar plays over it all.

"Milano" (6:35) begins full bore with a heavy moderate beat and loud bass and guitar layers. Mike's guitar layers make it sound like a guitar orchestra, and the sound is heavy and thick, pretty much what you come to expect from the band. Even with the heaviness though, Mike has always had a talent to create passionate melodies and they seem to stand above the other layers of heaviness in the music. It's a great, solid track, but we've heard this from them before, and that is exactly what the fans are looking for. This is one of the main things that separate Russian Circles from the heavier post metal bands like Pelican, their ability to let the melodies be highlighted. "Kohokia" (7:18) starts out a bit quieter, with a hard, moderately slow beat, dark guitar and heavy bass. The darkness continues to boil along pushing the track forward and creating tension. The thickness of the music increases as more heavy layers are added and a wall of music gets built. At 4 minutes, another layer of guitar in a higher register is finally added to the heavy sound, and it chimes out with a Scandinavian style of melodic metal, just like someone playing on top of a forested mountain. You can see it in your mind's eye, can't you, as the camera pans over the top of the band as they create an avalanche of sound from the top of Mount Baldy or what have you. Nice, emotional, yet also expected.

"Ghost on High" (2:34) is a nice interlude made up of soft guitar layers and bass. It's actually quite lovely and is a nice reprieve from the previous heavy tracks, yet heavy chords threaten in the background towards the end of the track. "Sinaia" (7:30) flows from that previous track and a layer of sustained guitar chords keep the feeling floating along until more layers are built, and then the drums and bass start to ground everything. It's not too long before the thickness returns as the typical moderately slow rhythm pushes forward. Excitement is generated as there is a bit of an increase in tempo while the guitar continually gets heavier. There is a sudden break at around 4 minutes, then the wall of noise springs up again even more. It all becomes more and more monolithic and the heaviness factor is now heavier than ever until everything crashes to a climactic ending with nothing but pounding drums. "Quartered" (6:39) begins with a fast drums, guitar feedback and thumping bass. The feedback creates it's own layer in this case before the heavy guitar creates a new melodic pattern. Rolling drums and guitars push it forward to another heavy concoction of doomish style post rock.

This is one the fans will love, and if you love your music heavy and chunky, you will love it also as a new fan. It is a very enjoyable guitar fest of thick music, but there really is nothing new here. You can pretty much get any of their albums and know what kind of sound to expect from them. Heavy, solid post rock with some emphasis on melodic guitar layers that blend into a big wall of sound. The band is a step above most of the typical post rock sound, and is not afraid to make things loud for longer periods of time, not just satisfied to develop intensity, but to remain there and develop from that sound. However, there is a hesitancy for the band to move past their established sound or experiment with it much. That is the one thing that keeps the music from reaching the five star level of bands like "Mono" or "GY!BE". They can come close, but never seem to quite make it there. But they still remain a band that I will listen to, mostly because their sound is consistently great, even if that consistency keeps them from moving to a higher level.

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