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RUSSIAN CIRCLES

Post Rock/Math rock • United States


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Russian Circles biography
RUSSIAN CIRCLES are an American instrumental experimental/math rock trio from Chicago, IL. Their sound consists of expansive guitar sounds created by guitarist Mike Sullivan's extensive looping and layering (a sound which he accurately reproduces at live shows), as well as heavily rhythmic drums and crushing basslines. They feature the cinematic soundscapes common to post-rock, but are not afraid to keep some sections heavy with a capital H, and have plenty of rhythm changes. They formed in 2005, and self-released an eponymous EP, followed shortly thereafter by their full-length debut, ''Enter''. RUSSIAN CIRCLES provide a sonic adventure that should be enjoyable for any fan of the genre.

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GuidanceGuidance
Sargent House 2016
Audio CD$9.49
$9.08 (used)
MemorialMemorial
Sargent House 2013
Audio CD$6.98
$7.72 (used)
EmprosEmpros
Sargent House 2011
Vinyl$15.75
$9.99 (used)
StationStation
Suicide Squeeze 2008
Audio CD$7.59
$7.56 (used)
EnterEnter
Flameshovel 2006
Audio CD$9.39
$6.29 (used)
GenevaGeneva
Suicide Squeeze 2009
Audio CD$7.89
$1.14 (used)
Russian Circles Live at Schubas 05/27/2005Russian Circles Live at Schubas 05/27/2005
Russian Circles 2011
Audio CD$15.99
$109.56 (used)
Enter by RUSSIAN CIRCLES (2006-05-16)Enter by RUSSIAN CIRCLES (2006-05-16)
Flameshovel
Audio CD$52.06
Empros by Russian Circles (2011-10-25)Empros by Russian Circles (2011-10-25)
Sargent House
Audio CD$50.84
Station by Russian Circles (2008-05-06)Station by Russian Circles (2008-05-06)
Suicide Squeeze
Audio CD$175.00
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RUSSIAN CIRCLES discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

RUSSIAN CIRCLES top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.15 | 166 ratings
Enter
2006
3.89 | 78 ratings
Station
2008
2.88 | 45 ratings
Geneva
2009
3.86 | 80 ratings
Empros
2011
3.39 | 23 ratings
Memorial
2013
4.26 | 11 ratings
Guidance
2016

RUSSIAN CIRCLES Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

RUSSIAN CIRCLES Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

RUSSIAN CIRCLES Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

RUSSIAN CIRCLES Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.58 | 7 ratings
Russian Circles
2005
4.20 | 10 ratings
Upper Ninety
2006

RUSSIAN CIRCLES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Guidance by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.26 | 11 ratings

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Guidance
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Porcupineapple

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.

 Guidance by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.26 | 11 ratings

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Guidance
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Rune2000
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars From the first minutes of this album I was convinced that this is a return to form for Russian Circles and I was not disappointed! Russian Circles have been a favorite of mine for quite some time. Even if the trio from Chicago haven't been able to deliver a perfect string of records, even their lesser moments are well worth experiencing.

I really liked the opening track Asa which is then perfectly complemented by Vorel. Unlike the intro on Memorial, which felt way too short and it's transition into Deficit felt abrupt, Asa takes it's time and delivers one of the band's best intros which can only be matched by the excellence of Campaign on Station. The transition into Vorel is seamless and the track that we are presented with is another marvelous piece of music that reminds me of Harper Lewis from, yet again, Station. Mota brings us a moment of sheer beauty as the track slowly unravels itself into another mix of melancholy and sheer power.

I'm really liking the fact that these compositions are slightly longer than most of material on Memorial, thus making the track flow feel more natural and the performances seem almost effortless. Africa is a perfect example of just that. The track commences slowly while feeling very structured in it's delivery as we are treated to a beautiful sounding landscape of musical harmony. The composition shifts into minor scale halfway thought the track and transitions in a completely different beast before returning to it's humble beginnings towards the end, what an excellent piece of music!

Just like Mota, Overboard works as another transitional piece that brings the record even more beauty as we slowly transition towards the final two tracks of Guidance. Calla is a heavy composition that introduces itself in the orderly fashion as we are treated to another pleasant landscape filled with electric guitar and hard hitting percussion work. Lisboa finishes the record off nicely with another slow and atmospheric piece which reminds me, yet again(!), of the ending to Station.

The question that I've pondered on, after giving Guidance a few spins, is whether the record is meant as a follow up to Station. The album does indeed feature quite a few callbacks to one of the finest records of 2008 but I wouldn't really say that the connection is entirely justified. The band have undergone quite a few different milestones during the last 8 years and thus have many different influences to draw it's inspiration from. There is definitely an ambition with Guidance to create another coherent record, which is something that Russian Circles have managed to do in the past with Empros and especially Station. Therefore the connection to Station is more in spirit than in execution. Either way, this is another excellent album from Russian Circles that should not be missed by fans of instrumental rock music!

***** star songs: Asa (4:00) Vorel (5:29) Afrika (6:31)

**** star songs: Mota (6:33) Overboard (5:32) Calla (6:23) Lisboa (6:32)

 Memorial by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.39 | 23 ratings

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Memorial
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Rune2000
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars This is a tough album to review for me. I've been a fan of Russian Circles for quite some time now and even though I've had issues with some of the band's material in the past it was mostly minor complains in comparison to my reactions to Memorial.

After the release of the marvelous Empros, I was ectatic on hearing more from the direction that the band were heading for. Will they continue in their instrumental style or will they add vocals to some of their songs, just like they did on Praise Be Man? Will the band return to the more aggressive style that was heard on early albums, Enter and Station, or will we hear even more material resembling traditional post rock style? Will the new album be able to top the achievements of Empros?

Memorial starts with a short prelude as we are transition to the album's two longer pieces - Deficit and 1777 . The transition from Memoriam to Deficit feels very abrupt, which is quite unusual for a band that is known for fluent and transcendent instrumental pieces. Deficit is a heavy track that fits quite well with the album cover which depicts a harsh but beautiful landscape shot. Some sections of the track brings the band back to the early achievements on Station but I lack the overall coherence from the beginning to the end of the track. 1777 feels a lot more structured but it lacks the memorable punch that I require of my Russian Circle experience. The overall sound is a lot more dreamy and less catchy than what I've come to expect from the trio, still in no way a bad piece of music.

The rest of the album consists of tracks that are between 4-5 minutes long and, starting with Cheyenne, I immediately began to see the general problem with Memorial as an album. The record lacks the feel of consistency and most of the music featured on the second half of the album feels more like experimental ideas rather than full-fledged compositions. I've been trying to enjoy this record ever since it was released in 2013 and I've really been struggling with it. The material that is presented here isn't bad but I lack the distinct Russian Circles flavor that the band are usually able to bring to the table. Even the collaboration with Chelsea Wolfe on the album's title track feels out of place with the rest of the record and would have worked better as a stand alone single.

Even though this record has been somewhat of a disappointment for me, I'm still very interested in hearing what Russian Circles will deliver on their next record. Hopefully they'll take one step back in order to leap two steps forwards, hence return to the format that was featured on Empros and improve upon it.

**** star songs: Memoriam (1:28) Deficit (6:42) 1777 (7:21) Burial (4:43) Ethel (4:03) Lebaron (4:36)

*** star songs: Cheyenne (4:24) Memorial (3:45)

 Geneva by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.88 | 45 ratings

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Geneva
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I tend to agree with the other reviews on this one. It's an okay album, but in it's attempt to garner new followers for the band, it seems to have lost the fire and heart that the previous two albums had. It starts off well enough with the first 2 tracks which have a lot of fire, especially the title track, and one tends to think Russian Circles have released another great post-rock album. The songs all sound good on the surface, but once all is said and done, it's hard to come up with anything here that is very memorable, groundbreaking or unique. Unfortunately, on this album, the band tries too hard to get a portion of the Mogwai followers, and instead ended up with an album full of a lot of surface music with no depth. The songs are mostly dark, but one track, "Hexed All" is extremely soft and pretty, but again, as nice as it is, it doesn't really leave anything behind. "Malko" even starts out with a nice beat that starts to build and up to a certain point, could have been a breakthrough single for the band, but it suddenly gets very dense. The longer tracks, namely "Mountain..." and "Philos" execute a great slow burn with a build up, but again, there is nothing new here. There is a lack of melody and feeling which is sad for what was shaping up to be an excellent band after two great albums. Again, it's not that it's bad, but it's not great either...only average and non essential. 3 stars.
 Enter by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.15 | 166 ratings

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Enter
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Memorial by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.39 | 23 ratings

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Memorial
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by ergaster

4 stars 3.5/5

2013 was a good year for post-rock, at least for me: Although relatively new to the genre (and its relations), Russian Circles was one of the first bands whose output I explored, and I was very happy (along with lots of other people) that the iconic post-rock outfit was releasing a new album.

Memorial does live up to the anticipation. These three guys can churn out wonderfully heavy, complex sounds, and this album does not disappoint. Most of the tracks are satisfyingly kick-ass, chord-driven, melodic, held together by great, intricate drumming. The heavy middle tracks are anchored on both ends by slower, almost acoustic tracks: "Memorial" at the beginning and "Memoriam" at the end, which revisits it but with wispy female vocals deep in the mix for an ethereal wind-up. I have to say it was a bonus to be able to see them produce these sounds live.

I tend to prefer the heavy end of post-rock to the ambient end, and although Russian Circles generally fits nicely there, I found Memorial to have a rather somber, more contemplative feel which makes it just a shade less compelling than I otherwise would have liked. The album manages to avoid the rather too-common sin of being a bit too long or including a track or two that may have been better left off, but the general dark feel drags it down.

 Memorial by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.39 | 23 ratings

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Memorial
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Memorial' , Russian Circle's, latest 2013, probably was named as such, because it will bring back the memory of the 80's Heavy Metal sound, the kind like Judas Priest or Def Leppard or any of those bands. That style became such a cliche, that it was almost impossible, to tell one band from the other. That for me, is quiet a downer. I never learned to appreciate, that limited and common ground of songwriting (I'm not talking about performances or instrumental skills), these Metal dudes offered.

In my taste, they were quiet boring and anonymous, even with the oversized fireworks, "solos" and screams. So to be thrown back, in a couple of this record's songs to that period is no big thrill for me!...

Good thing, this happens only in two songs, and its so blatant, that it seems all like a joke, or, an up-front repetition of their favorite "riffs" of that decade. But as mentioned, it is all saved for good, by the rest of the songs, that are by far, more original and more interesting in the Russian Circle's proper language, which, has to be mentioned, when they are good, they are really good, in all aspects of musical composition, performance and a sometimes forgotten, but developing, originality.

Now, if you dig those Metal years, this album will be an easy 4 PA stars. I, who dislike these "roots" or "tributes", will rate it ***3 PA stars , and "I will butcher these two songs off and have a very good, very listenable and enjoyable, 2013, Russian Circles album", .

IMPORTANT,-except for the last song, this is a vocal-less album.

 Empros by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.86 | 80 ratings

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Empros
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.
 Empros by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.86 | 80 ratings

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Empros
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Horizons
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

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.

 Station by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.89 | 78 ratings

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Station
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The metal-tinged post-rock trio Russian Circles presents another compelling collection of compositions on Station, which takes their music into somewhat bleaker territory than their debut album Enter; there's a bit more of an emphasis on harsh, minimalistic soundscapes this time around, which serves to add intriguing textures to the band's compositions.

I also think that on the whole they drift away from the metal side of the post-rock/post-metal divide they so ably straddled on the debut; it's still there, but they don't visit that territory quite so frequently this time around. This is in stark contrast to Cult of Luna, another band who had made a virtue of working in the borderline between the two sister subgenres, who at around the same time were taking a more distinctly metal direction. Either way, Russian Circles remain an interesting prospect.

Thanks to Jimbo for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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