Monday, 9 March 2015

Russian Circles "Empros" (2011)

American three piece instrumental Post-Metal group Russian Circles are a band I'm new too, having enjoyed their most recent record "Memorial" I decided to go back and listen to their previous record, the bands fourth. Like before I found a strange sense of passing immersion in their music which is powerful, moving and has a momentous gravity about it, but when the record wasn't playing there isn't much I could recall. I believe this is a reflection of their musical approach, no hooks or cheap thrills, not even straight forward melodies and leads. Its an unconventional approach to melody and noise which is not unfamiliar, but on this record their dive into momentous noise and sound is one of progression, atmosphere and cascading distortions.

Compared to "Memorial", "Empros" is a darker, grittier atmosphere, rough around the edges rhythmically aggressive on its darker tracks like the opener "309" which progressed into a primitive assault as the bass and drums pound out a crunching militant groove under expanding, noisy guitar ringing reminiscent of Godflesh in the "Streetcleaner" era. After this track the album takes a more melodic accent, yet with harmonious, cleaner notes ringing out, there is an underbelly of rumbling distortion from the bass and massive atmosphere from the drums that continually layer sound into the mix that goes beyond timing and groove, the crashing symbols and rolling toms expand the atmosphere into darker regions.

Unlike a lot of music, Russian Circles don't leave you with a hook or melody stuck in your mind, and its this I gripe with. Every listen has immersion, as soaring noisescapes expand and contract with dramatic enormous guitar tones, but the riffs are reactive to the moment, and never formulated to fit a structure or progression. Its impressive and remarkable in its own right, but the years and years of traditional verse chorus music has made it harder to re-imagine in the mind, and thus I find I never have an itch to put it back on. If anything I think its a reminder to diversify more often. I think this record has a fair amount to offer, but my aforementioned gripe has me wondering of its value to me.

Favorite Track: 309
Rating: 6/10