Chicago, like many cities across the world, has a particular stylized sound that permeates the music that originates from it. Call it what you will, but the native culture that arises from the city finds a means of expression thorough its music. The same is said for the way life goes on within the borders of the city. Somehow, the regional elements which envelop the the artists creep out musically.
Chicago is home to a three-member instrumental band that plays a cool mix of metal and experimental guitar styles that goes by the fascinating name of Russian Circles. Formed in 2004, Russian Circles is Mike Sullivan (guitars), Brian Cook (bass), and David Turncrantz (drums). Since their formation, the band has gone through a change in bass players, with Cook replacing founding member Colin DeKuiper. The band has released three albums.
Their first album, Enter, was released in 2006. It features six instrumentals, one over the nine-minute mark. For the band’s first shot at a release, Enter is a well-developed and brilliant album with an inherent darkness etched into its overall sound composition. The structures of the songs are tight, and yet they allow for a sort of exploration. You could almost call the album an ambient one for the sake of ambience. But it goes far beyond that with lots of replay value.
Enter was followed in 2008 by Station, an album that begins with an eerie industrial sound that builds to an explosive, manic wall of sound before falling into a soothing, minimalistic stream of music. “Harper Lewis” comes at you hard and fast with loud, buzz-saw guitar and bass, and pounding drums. The album’s remaining four tracks deliver metal and, like the preceding two tracks, are compelling reasons to own the album.
In 2009, Russian Circles released a broad step album with Geneva. Geneva contains seven tracks that have all the earmarks of a growing band. The songs have greater depth, making the album an essential one to own if you’re a fan. There’s plenty of metal to go around in this excellent album, especially heard on the stimulating "Malko." But melancholy isn’t absent in this album. It resides deeply in the song "Hexed All." The best songs on the album are those found at the end, the eight-minute “When The Mountain Comes To Mohammad” and the closer track, “Philos,” which clocks in at an amazing ten minutes-plus of growling metal and dark instrumentals.
On October 25, Russian Circles will release their fourth full-length album, Empros. The six-song album is being referred to as the band’s Master of Reality (Black Sabbath), and spoken of as " a radical revision of both heavy and melody that is monolithic in its clarity and perfection." The album, like those that came before it, will contain extended songs. Empros will be distributed on CD, LP, and DD.
Had Russian Circles begun their life cycle in the ‘70s, they would be revered by now, with an awed following. Even so, there’s no reason they can’t still get to that point. Russian Circles is a grownup rock band with the music to prove it.
6. Praise Be Man