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Russian Circles - Empros CD (album) cover


Russian Circles


Post Rock/Math rock

3.88 | 89 ratings

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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)

Rune2000 | 4/5 |


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