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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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MemorialMemorial
Sargent House 2013
Audio CD$9.25
$15.60 (used)
StationStation
Suicide Squeeze 2008
Audio CD$8.91
$4.95 (used)
GenevaGeneva
Suicide Squeeze 2009
Audio CD$7.94
$2.87 (used)
EmprosEmpros
Sargent House 2011
Audio CD$9.41
$5.87 (used)
EnterEnter
Flameshovel 2006
Audio CD$8.66
$5.36 (used)
Russian Circles Live at Schubas 05/27/2005Russian Circles Live at Schubas 05/27/2005
Russian Circles 2011
Audio CD$15.99
Russian Circles - Memorial [Japan CD] DYMC-209Russian Circles - Memorial [Japan CD] DYMC-209
J-Indies
Audio CD$27.60
STATION +1STATION +1
Suicide Squeeze
Audio CD$52.64
$63.00 (used)
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RUSSIAN CIRCLES shows & tickets


  • Russian Circles + Mutoid Man at The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA on 10 Dec 2014
  • Russian Circles + Mutoid Man at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn on 11 Dec 2014
  • Russian Circles + Mutoid Man at Underground Arts, Philadelphia on 12 Dec 2014
  • Russian Circles + Native Daughters + Dead Temple at Gothic Theatre, Englewood on 27 Dec 2014

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)

4.17 | 141 ratings
Enter
2006
3.89 | 65 ratings
Station
2008
2.81 | 36 ratings
Geneva
2009
3.86 | 72 ratings
Empros
2011
3.52 | 9 ratings
Memorial
2013

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)

3.56 | 5 ratings
Russian Circles
2005
4.13 | 8 ratings
Upper Ninety
2006

RUSSIAN CIRCLES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Memorial by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.52 | 9 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.

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 Memorial by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.52 | 9 ratings

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Memorial
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by admireArt

3 stars 'Memorial' , Russian Circle's, latest, 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 immitated way of song writing (I'm not talking about performances or instrumental skills), these Metal dudes offered. In my taste, they were quiet boring and annonymous, 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, or at least, as an alternative Porcupine Tree kind of band. 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", ***3, "I will butcher these two songs off, and have a very good, very listenable and enjoyable, 2013, Russian Circles album", PA stars. IMPORTANT, except for the last song, this is a vocal-less album.

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 Empros by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.86 | 72 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.

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 Empros by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.86 | 72 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.

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 Station by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.89 | 65 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.

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 Enter by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.17 | 141 ratings

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Enter
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Empros by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.86 | 72 ratings

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Empros
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Rune2000
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

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)

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 Geneva by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.81 | 36 ratings

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Geneva
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Rune2000
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars After two quite impressive releases that showed clear growth from Russian Circles, the band decided to take a slightly different route with their third album. This decision has been met with mix reactions from both the fans and critics due to the album's lack of any real progression compared to the one acknowledged on Station.

Just like the previous release, Geneva continues the band's stray from the metal oriented approach of Enter, with the clear exception of the album's title track, while moving toward the atmospheric post-rock sound. I never considered this in itself to be the reason behind the album's failing. Instead it's the lack of progression mixed with too many directionless mellow parts that keep Geneva from being another excellent album from Russian Circles.

The album's opening track Fathom clearly sets up the mood while not actually being as effective as Station's Campaign, but that's just nitpicking on my part. The title track reminds me a lot of second album's highlight Youngblood while still making enough impact of it's own. Unfortunately this is pretty much where this album sinks into the realm of mellow and atmospheric music. Meele is chill-out moment but instead of functioning as a temporary breezed, the album continues in this same mellow direction with Hexed All, slightly more energetic and very indie rock sounding Malko and continuing the same low-key style throughout the remaining 18 minutes of the album.

The overall result is really not in any means a bad one but Geneva definitely lacks the energy and ambition of the previous releases. The addition of a few orchestrated sections don't really add the needed momentum to the material and instead only make it sound more like lounge music that loses it's post-rock roots. From what I've heard, this album actually brought in many new fans into the realm of Russian Circles but let's hope that the 2011 release Empros will spark a new flare within the band!

***** star songs: Geneva (5:49)

**** star songs: Fathom (4:55) Melee (7:39) Malko (4:43) Philos (10:26)

*** star songs: Hexed All (4:29) When The Mountain Comes To Muhammad (8:00)

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 Enter by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.17 | 141 ratings

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Enter
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by BrufordFreak

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."

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 Enter by RUSSIAN CIRCLES album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.17 | 141 ratings

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Enter
Russian Circles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

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.

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