RUSSIAN CIRCLES
RUSSIAN CIRCLES Usa

Russian Circles named their 2016 album Guidance in reference to the uncertainty of the future. It was a fitting title for the times, with the album coming out a few months before America’s tumultuous presidential election, but it was intended more as a reference to the band’s own absence of a blueprint as they navigated their second decade as a band than as a social commentary. If there were questions as to how to move forward as a musical unit or individual doubts as to how to continue toiling as artists in the underground, the three years of relentless touring on the album only served to reinforce the Sisyphean struggle of artists. With their latest album Blood Year, Russian Circles forsake the sonic crossroads of divergent musical paths found on albums like Guidance and Memorial to offer up the most direct and forceful collection of songs in their discography.

 
The Chicago trio have always explored the dynamics of volume and timbre, with their albums vascilating between caustic attacks and blissful respites. Blood Year begins with the calm before the storm in “Hunter Moon”, where a few narcotic repetitions of guitarist Mike Sullivan’s melancholic plucked chords and woozy slide guitar usher in the first assault. “Arluck” charges out of the reverberating sustain of somber drones with Dave Turncrantz’s pounding rack and floor toms, expertly captured by Kurt Ballou at Electrical Audio in Chicago. The studio’s reputation for pristine drum tones is on full display in those opening bars, and when the drums break and Brian Cook’s grinding bass line forces its way into the mix it becomes evident as to why the band returned to Steve Albini’s world-famous recording studio where they’d tracked Enter, Geneva, and Memorial. Sullivan dives into the song with his signature finger-tapped leads and stacks loops of idiosyncratic harmonies on top of it. The song barrels through bottom heavy chugged guitar patterns and tightly wound noise-rock riffage before the rhythm section drops out to leave a lone guitar line in the ether. A second guitar line comes in on top of it. Then a third. The chasm fills with an orchestra of guitar loops before the drums and bass come back in and build to the song’s vicious conclusion.

With Sullivan, Turncrantz, and Cook all residing in different states, Russian Circles have typically crafted their albums by piecing together song fragments and home recordings into meticulous texture-rich studio productions. But after seven tours in North American and five trips to Europe in support of Guidance, the band made a conscious effort to approach the songs on Blood Year with the same organic feel of a live show. In an age where rock records are often built on a computerized grid, Russian Circles chose to track the foundations of the songs together in one room as complete takes without click tracks. The human pulse and unmetered energy is immediately obvious in the dissonant barrage of “Milano”. The no-frills wall of distortion and mid-tempo stomp of the song recalls some of Russian Circles’ most unrelentingly savage moments—Memorial’s “Burial”, Geneva’s title track, Empros’ “309”. The first half of Blood Year closes with “Kohokia”, a harrowing song that somehow manages to capture the unsettling negative space of Spiderland in one moment, the blurry clamor of ashen metal in the next, and ultimately arriving at a triumphant pinnacle of staccato bass chords, battering ram drums, and heroic tapped guitar leads. 

Side two begins with one of the few reserved moments on the album in the slow fever-dream loop-stacked baritone guitar lines provided by Cook on “Ghost on High”. It’s less a song than a prelude to the tremolo-picked battle anthem “Sinaia”. Guitar overdubs were done at Ballou’s God City studio, and the engineer’s gift for rendering a variety of exquisite distorted tones can be heard in the timbre-rich medley of pastoral drones in the introduction, fury-of-Valhalla tremolo picking in the verses, scathing black metal-tinged snarl in the bridge, and cataclysmic chords in the finale. Russian Circles albums have typically ended with a comedown—the pensive “Xavii”, the folk ballads of “Praise Be Man” and “Memorial”, the delay-soaked ambience of “Philos”—but Blood Year ends on its most vengeful note, with the barbaric battery of “Quartered”. 

If Guidance was meant to be an exploration of forking paths, Blood Year was an almost single-minded statement of authority. While it retains the dexterity, multi-faceted techniques, and dramatic compositions that have been a trademark of Russian Circles since day one, Blood Year fully embraces the most forceful aspects of the band’s repertoire.



BAND CONTACT


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TOURDATES
14-04-2022
Lucerna Music Bar
Prague
Czech Republic
 
16-04-2022
Pont Rouge
Monthey
Switzerland
 
17-04-2022
Rote Fabrik
Zurich
Switzerland
 
18-04-2022
Technikum
Munich
Germany
 
20-04-2022
Kulturfabrik
Esch-sur-Alzette
Luxemburg
 
22-04-2022
Bataclan
Paris
France
 
23-04-2022
Astrolabe
Orleans
France
 
24-04-2022
Warehouse
Nantes
France
 
26-04-2022
Metronum
Toulouse
France
 
27-04-2022
Atabal
Biarritz
France
 
28-04-2022
Sala Mon
Madrid
Spain
 
29-04-2022
Hard Club
Porto
Portugal
 
30-04-2022
Lisbao Ao Vivo
Lisbon
Portugal
 
01-05-2022
Sala Custom
Sevilla
Spain
 
03-05-2022
LA 2
Barcelona
Spain
 
05-05-2022
Circolo Magnolia
Milan
Italy
 
06-05-2022
Orion Live Club
Rome
Italy
 
07-05-2022
TPO
Bologna
Italy
 
09-05-2022
Pogon Kulture
Rijeka
Croatia
 
10-05-2022
Durer Kert
Budapest
Hungary
 
11-05-2022
Flex
Vienna
Austria
 
12-05-2022
Conne Island
Leipzig
Germany
 
14-05-2022
South Of Silence
Lohr Am Main
Germany
 
15-05-2022
Astra Kulturhaus
Berlin
Germany
 
17-05-2022
Musikenshus
Gothenburg
Sweden
 
18-05-2022
Slaktkyrkan
Stockholm
Sweden
 
20-05-2022
Parkteatret
Oslo
Norway
 
21-05-2022
A Colossal Weekend
Copenhagen
Denmark
 
22-05-2022
Gruenspan
Hamburg
Germany
 
23-05-2022
Die Kantine
Cologne
Germany
 
24-05-2022
Trix
Antwerp
Belgium
 
26-05-2022
Gagarin 205
Athens
Greece