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Russian Circles - Guidance CD (album) cover


Russian Circles


Post Rock/Math rock

3.74 | 54 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Before I even start talking about this album I should start by saying that for me Empros is one of the best 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 think I can say: they made it... Or, almost made it.

'Asa', first of all, is a fine ambient opener, fit for purpose, bringing back some of the dialled down moments 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. 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 album is a solid effort. 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, the end result is as wicked as Station, more mature than Memorial and playful like Empros but in the dramatic-acid-trips-way again, which is a good mixture. Overall not as strong as their previous album but is solid enough to mark another strong entry in their discography.

Porcupineapple | 4/5 |


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