A couple of years ago, I wrote an article on the fourth studio release from experimental Chicago band Russian Circles. That album, Empros, was released on October 25, 2011. Now, almost exactly two years later, Russian Circles will release their next album, Memorial, on October 29 (CD, DD. LP). Interestingly, the new album will present an evolutionary path for the trio.
Russian Circles has always been considered an experimental and largely instrumental band, with a harder, metal-edged quality to their lengthy compositions. Now, history has more experimental bands within its pages than you could imagine. Even more established artists have tried their hand at it. Remember Lou Reed's stab at experimental with his wildly controversial Metal Machine Music? While Russian Circles' music does not mimic the sounds of Reed's immortal album, they do push the envelope, albeit in a more tasteful fashion.
Empros, their fourth album, delivered a stunning collection of six songs, some lengthy but all listenable. However, on their fifth studio album the band approaches their style in different ways. The music is now darker, and strides in the arena of the theme. And this time they add in vocals from a label mate, Chelsea Wolfe (a metal art-folk artist), to excellent effect.
Brian Cook, the bassist of Russian Circles, told Rolling Stone magazine that the new album is "...straightforward, intense, heavy.." and said that the band "subconsciously gravitated toward darker and more somber sounds. We wanted to get away from the overtly flashy."
There is much more going on within these eight tracks. The album starts out with "Memoriam," a stripped down version of a song that is more fleshed out for the end of the album in the closing song, "Memorial" (heard below in provided stream), in a way that was experienced on the Pink Floyd classic Animals. Memorial intends to be more accessible to a wider audience than their previous work may have been.
Memorial is anxiously awaited by the band's legion of fans. Their Facebook page has over 59,000 "likes". And while I'm pleased to inform you of this new album from Russian Circles, this is not the first article heralding its arrival. Russian Circles is doing well, as Memorial will attest.