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Russian Circles

Post Rock/Math rock

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Russian Circles Station album cover
3.98 | 101 ratings | 10 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Campaign (6:40)
2. Harper Lewis (7:15)
3. Station (8:43)
4. Verses (8:42)
5. Youngblood (7:34)
6. Xavii (4:29)

Total Time 43:23

Line-up / Musicians

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

- Matt Bayles / organ, keyboards, production & mixing
- Morgan Henderson / double bass

Releases information

Artwork: Jonathan Krohn

LP Sargent House ‎- SH 007 (2008, US)

CD Suicide Squeeze - S-070 (2008, US)

Thanks to TheProgtologist for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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RUSSIAN CIRCLES Station ratings distribution

(101 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RUSSIAN CIRCLES Station reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Prog-jester
3 stars 'RUSH on weed' or 'Post-Math-Rock-Power-Trio' from Chicago is well-known now in Post-Rock circles due to their hurricane-like debut 'Enter' and preceding EP. 'Station', the logical follow-up, indeed sounds like band is taking a break on a some station, taking a break from fresh ideas and new influences.

Now seriously. Amazing coverartwork and few powerful bits like first half of 'Youngblood' barely saving the album from 2 stars; 3 stars here serve as a crying example of a positive attitude to the band. Some good playing, some obvious hooks and cliches thrown here and there - wait, didn't I tell you this is only Post-Rock? This is where things get naked to the bone, and the only thing you should be bothered with is if you touched by this music or not. Dozens of other bands throw the same cliches in, play the same chords and harmonies, even in the same order, and God only knows why we love these ones and hate those others. I won't claim 'Station' is a throw-away record, because it's not, really; this is where it's up to you - to get it or not to get it. Check MySpace, YouTube, their official site and think. What's my role then, you may ask? Oh, I'm just expressing my opinion, y'know ;)

Review by Dim
2 stars Big disapointment.

Many claim that the loud soft effect, perfected by Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky is being so overused, and so cliche that it's killing Post Rock. With it's overly used guitar build up to a soaring climax with pounding drums, sometimes vocals and strings, but you can always be sure there will be at least one guitar playing distartion into delay, giving that kind of triumphant and overpowering tone. You know what, I disagree with these nay-sayers, I love this formula, I am a sucker for the slow build up, and the ever so stereotypical climax, and I love that guitar tone, and I dont care how cheesy it is, if it's gorgeous like Mogwai, Eits, The Evpatoria report, Caspian, or Pg.Lost, then I'll probably like it...

But this is Russian circles, a band who shook the Post Rock world with their aggressive debut album Enter, Where the climax came through speed, technicallity, and distortion, not slow brooding delayed guitars. No this is a different kind of instrumental band, one that has the nerve to cross into metal, but isnt post metal, one that is not afraid of technicality, but still are labeled Post rock. This is a band who truly define the phrase Sophomore slump, Another thing that I dont believe in. So many good bands make some of their best work through their sophomore attempt, A perfect Circle, Isis, Pelican, Genesis, ELP, the list goes on. Russian Circles make me doubt my own beliefs though.

These three guys put out station, a very highly anticipated album by the media, and while it was recieved well by the critics, most of the fans of Enter obviously dont feel the same. There is no energy, PERIOD! Songs like Harper Lewis, and Young blood dont even stand up to the ferocity of Micah, or Death rides a horse, as far as speed, technicality, or aggression. No instead most of the album is exactly what I explained earlier, stereotypical, and boring. Yeah, if this were any other band I would probably love most of the songs, but the only song I actually can say that I enjoy the whole way through is Campaign, cause it's just that pretty. Sure the songs do have their moments, but it's just not the same Russian Circles that made Enter, and it's disapointing to me.

2 stars to the band that followed the stereotype.

Review by Moatilliatta
5 stars I'm quite shocked by the disappointment being expressed by my fellow collaborators regarding Station. What seems to be the general source for this disappointment is that the band is allegedly low on "fresh ideas" and inspiration and that the album lacks the energy of the "hurricane" debut, Enter. Sure, the album as a whole does not contain the fast tempos and consistent heaviness & energy of their debut, but to say that the band has run low on ideas and/or is borderline stereotypical is just plain wrong. What did you guys want? Another Enter? To make your second album like your first would be a sign of lack of ideas. Isn't this a progressive rock website? Russian Circles have created an album that has plenty of new ideas while still maintaining the band's identity. The energy is still here, but it's in smaller portions. The tapping riffs and metallic chugs are still here. It's all still here; it's just applied differently. And if I remember correctly (and I do), Enter had plenty of soft passages with delay effects on a clean guitar. The band is is using the same palette as before, they've just added a couple new colors and they're painting a new piece of art.

Let's take a quick look at the brilliance of the writing on Station: "Campaign" opens the album soft, slow and brooding led by a nice tapping riff. The atmosphere is thick and tense. The band very effectively teases the listeners waiting for that eruption with swells, fades and builds throughout the entire first half of the track. And just when you're certain they're going to burst, they bust a move on you, enveloping you with sheer beauty. Leaving a loose end, the band sets out to satiate the drooling listener with "Harper Lewis." The band continues to build tension with an ominous tom beat driven opening. A faint backdrop of sound gives way to a sinister bassline complimented by guitar swells a few measures later. Shortly thereafter, the rhythm section cuts out in a similar fashion as the preceding track, and we're certain the band is going to cut the tension any second. Certain becomes fairly certain as the drums begin a steady beat and the band seems to just carry on with what they're doing until the rhthm section cuts out again. This time it's for real. And they slam you down hard! With some chugs and then some taps, the band resolves the tension perfectly for the next minute and then brings it back down to let the listener regain their senses. The final leg of the track is a big build that is more of a set of steps than an continuous build. It becomes very unsettling as the guitar strums out chords comprised of the root notes in the earlier tapping riff and then ring out, allowing the song to end with another drum beat. The band has the listener in a stranglehold, playing with their mind and emotions. The uneasy feeling in the listener generated by the multiple teasers leading to a short lived resolution that still leaves a strange feeling of lacking resolve finally subsides in the following track, "Station." I'm going to stop my analysis there and leave the rest for the readers to experience themselves.

Simply put, the band's use of tension on this disc is phenominal and very effective. Multiple listens will allow the listener to come to terms with the structure of the album. Each song will then become enjoyable by itself and even more so in sequence with the rest of the album.

This album is excellent. Look, I can grant that this album is not as earth-shattering as the debut, but it is still fresh, it is still powerful, it is still emotive, it is still Russian Circles. Those looking for a stagnant band, rehashing old ideas by their second album need not bother. Those looking for a band to tap into different sounds, even some that are reflective of their post-rock peers while still maintiaing a clear identity and never resorting to predictable sonics and structures need bother. This is a well-written and well-executed piece of art. I think the generally tense and unsettling nature of the album has got the other guys a bit befuddled. Don't let that happen to you.

This album isn't necessarily essential listening for all, but I think it is very much a masterpiece in it's own right, as is Enter and its rating seriously needs some aid right now. Hence, five stars!

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I pretty much agree with Moatilliatta's review and thoughts on this album.This isn't as dynamic or explosive as the debut, but in it's own right and way this is an absolutely killer record. Maybe it's my Metal background, I don't know, but I love this album. And it clocks in at around 43 minutes. Nice.

"Campaign" starts off quietly and builds. I like when the guitar comes in before 2 1/2 minutes.The song hits it's peak before 3 1/2 minutes then settles back down. Great sound around 4 1/2 minutes. Piano ends it. "Harper Lewis" features some amazing sounding drums to open as some huge bass lines crash the party. Synths are followed by guitar as the tempo picks up. Heavy riffs after 2 1/2 minutes then an all out assault ! Killer drumming too. It then settles down but it's still heavy. "Station" truly sounds incredible. Guitar kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes and a fuller sound. Nice. It settles after 3 minutes then a minute later it's chaos ! A calm again 5 1/2 minutes in and a nice rhythm follows.

"Verses" slowly builds until i'm in heaven around 3 1/2 minutes.The guitar before 6 1/2 minutes sounds great. It sounds like a nucleur blast to end it. "Youngblood" is like walking into riff city. I love the sound when it changes before 3 1/2 minutes.The guitar starts to solo after 4 minutes. It kicks back in at 6 1/2 minutes. "XAVII" opens with slowly played guitar and drums. It's so beautiful 2 1/2 minutes in.The drums start to get more active a minute later as it ends.

RUSSIAN CIRCLES create a sound i'm very fond of, a few more albums like the first two and they'll become one of my favourite Post-Rock bands.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's been more than a year since the last Russian Circles review here on PA and that review was penned by yours truly! This is quite surprising considering all the praise that was spilled over this Chicago based trio's debut album Enter, only a few years back. Since then, the band has shifted gears and moved away from the metal style that was so prominent on their 2006 masterpiece. This was at least what I've read in the reviews for both Station and Geneva both here on PA and many other websites. This tiny bit of misinformation was actually the sole reason why I didn't give these albums my attention until now. So why do it after all this time? The answer to this is simple --- I finally got a chance to attend a Russian Circles live show!

You see, back in 2009 the band was planning to play a gig here in Stockholm, Sweden but this gig just wasn't meant to be. Luckily, I've still had my passion for Enter burning in me as I purchased the tickets for their July, 2011 show and it's pretty clear that I was not disappointed! The band began their performance with a completely mesmerizing take of Harper Lewis, or at least this was the name of the track once I asked a few other audience members about it. This composition was easily the highlight of the entire show since it completely knocked me off my feet and even made my eyes wet from Dave Turncrantz's and Brian Cook's drum and bass intro which then followed by the joyous tones of Mike Sullivan's guitar. Russian Circles followed this tour de force with great live renditions of Station and Youngblood, all of which just happened to be featured on the band's sophomore release and so it was pretty much a none-brained for me to purchase the album right there and then!

Station is a very fluent album, helped by the smooth transitions between the tracks and the great softer moments like Campaign and especially Verses. I've been pretty much playing this album non-stop since the gig and it has already surpassed the high level quality of their debut Enter! This material has received some unjust criticism so far and I hope that the fact that Russian Circles still base most of their live repertoire on this particular release speaks more for Station than I ever could!

***** star songs: Harper Lewis (7:15) Youngblood (7:34)

**** star songs: Campaign (6:40) Station (8:43) Verses (8:42) Xavii (4:29)

Review by Warthur
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.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Russian Circles, one of the most critically acclaimed post rock instrumental bands, was formed in Chicago Illinois in 2004 by long-time friends Mike Sullivan and Dave Turncrantz. In 2007, before the band released their second album 'Station', the original bassist Colin DeKuiper parted ways with the band. As a result, Brian Cook, previously from 'Botch' and 'These Arms Are Snakes' sat in as the replacements bassist for 'Station' and soon became a permanent member of Russian Circles. It with this line up, along with Morgan Henderson on double bass, that the 2nd album was recorded and released in 2008.

'Station' pretty much solidified the band's position in the post rock world. It was the first released with their new label Suicide Squeeze and it was recorded in Seattle, Washington. Even with the noted heavy work of Brian Cook in his previous bands, and the reputation of loud, sonically heavy concerts, the band decided to tone it back a bit for this album in order to break away from the typical formula of 'slow build up to an enormous climax' that was plaguing post rock. The move was to incorporate more finger picked guitar notes over the power chord attack of their debut album, even though they didn't ever entirely abandon the heavy metal backdrop of the music. The album has a total of 6 tracks, with a bonus track on the Japanese release that allows the run-time to reach 48 minutes.

'Campaign' starts it all off with the new style as the track begins with the guitars approaching the track cautiously, then slowly building with one guitar playing a repetitive arpeggio style pattern and the other guitar creating a flowing melody, which later intensifies a little off of a repetitive note riff. Minimal percussion pushes things forward, and then it falls back again as a lovely melody begins to be established and the drums begin to establish a steady rhythm in the 4 minute mark. The music is pleasant and flows along well, avoiding any heaviness in exchange for a lovely, melodic tone. 'Harper Lewis' on the other hand, establishes a solid drum beat right at the beginning and the bass starts things to boiling. An ambient style guitar brings out a melody in a smooth connected series of notes which changes to a more pizzicato sound as things build up. Suddenly, within the 2nd minutes, powerful chords start to disrupt the peaceful feeling and heavy guitars begin to chime in as the drums get wilder. Even with this more sonically alive track, the music remains on the smooth side, but the guitars are still allowed to howl a bit like a bohemian monster before things calm to a smoother, and flowing sound when the drums come back in. Again, within the 5th minute, intensity builds and explodes again in another climax that has more staying power. The sound is more melodic than the sludgey sound of the heavier post metal sound, and it is more apt to explore more interesting territory.

'Station' pumps up the excitement right away when the drums tap out a faster, steady beat and the bass and guitars hit along right with the beat, increasing in intensity with each hit, until it all folds into a nice driving rhythm interrupted by the establishment of power chord driven riffs, and memories of the heavier debut album, or the extremeness of the defunct band Botch start to come through. This continues to develop into one of the band's most memorable riffs and tracks, backing off on occasion for the listener to take a breath, and then coasting along before another quick build, false pay off, then sudden surprise climax. This is all within the first 5 minutes, after which, the tempo slows a bit and then the whole thing softens to a solo plucked guitar. At seven minutes, guitar fuzz thickens up the entire thing and a wall of heaviness is created with a minimal use of percussion. There is a quick climax and then the entire thing cools down as the guitars echo to silence.

'Verses' brings in a heavy drone sounding like an approaching airplane that then receeds off into the distance while a jangly guitar arpeggio fades in with a moderately slow drum beat and sustained chords ebb and flow underneath it all. The sustained guitar creates little bouts of dissonant feedback, but also sound a bit like a synth. Then the rhythm irons itself out and a lovely melody is created by the guitar for this atmospheric and lovely track. The real payoff comes at 6 minutes, when it all comes to an emotional and heavier climax. Soon, the music cools off again and sinks back into its softer state. 'Youngblood' gets heavy early on with a faster tempo and a churning guitar building up strength quickly, forcing the drums to go double time. A heavy metal riff then pushes things up another notch and soon your head is bouncing along to the whole thing. Just before 3 minutes, it pulls back a bit, but the rhythm continues. Then both guitars come in, this time more melodically. It's a great, faster paced track, that only interrupts its steady beat for some cool drum tricks here and there. At 5 minutes, the steady beat gets broken down and things get a little atmospheric. It all builds again and then spends the last minute playing out a heavy climax.

'Xavii' goes for a nice, slower and smooth rhythm with a nice underlying organ and lovely cool down track. Some beautiful textures and sounds are explored with the guitars as this track continues on, sometimes becoming almost ambient, but then suddenly picking up a bit more power on the 2nd half. The Japanese release also included a 7th track 'Upper Ninety'. This track comes from an EP that was released a few years earlier, and you can hear the difference in the sound here as it sounds heavier and, to me, less focused. But, its still a good track and anytime you add something good to an already great album, it's a good thing.

All in all, I find this to be an excellent release from and excellent band. The fact that they were willing to explore a genre that was becoming too formulaic is a big plus, and, even though it doesn't have the same frantic and heavy feel of the debut album, I love the fact that it has a lot more variety. Yes, there are still heavy moments here, but it's not a constant onslaught, and I find myself returning to this album a lot more that the debut album, and have found that it has retained its hold on me even more than the debut album has. To me, this is a masterpiece of an album, and I have no problem rating it as such.

Latest members reviews

4 stars My first experience with Russian Circles, and quite a good one. Their music is a very nice blend of post-rock atmospherics, guitars reminiscent of post-metal, and somewhat conventional but good drumming. It draws many comparisons, but none really fit- Russian Circles has made a unique and enjoyab ... (read more)

Report this review (#272808) | Posted by Neurotarkus | Thursday, March 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is another strong effort from the band. Their first album (Enter) has received more attention and it is heavier overall. This second album is slightly more hypnotic in my opinion (in a good way!). It still ramps up to Power Post-Rock in places. Russian Circles sound somewhat similar to ... (read more)

Report this review (#219638) | Posted by digdug | Wednesday, June 3, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The second album from the amazing Experimental Rock Trio Russian Circles was everything i expected and even better than their first album which is also very good. Station might not be as heavy as Enter but it has its heavy parts. The guitar and drumming in this album are all things to look forewo ... (read more)

Report this review (#177043) | Posted by JROCHA | Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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