Five albums deep, Russian Circles is no stranger to post-rock masterpieces that combine tranquil, orchestral arrangements with loud, thrashing beats. The trio released their sixth album, Guidance, on August 5th through Sargent House. The seven-song collection is an interwoven work composed by guitarist Mike Sullivan, bassist Brian Cook, and drummer Dave Turncrantz. While their 2013 album, Memorial, added more elements of keyboards and guest vocals from Chelsea Wolfe, Guidance keeps things grounded with the album as a whole sounding effortless and seamless.
The album begins with Sullivan’s soothing guitar, creating waves of peaceful melody. Simply put in one word, the opening track “Asa” is beautiful. Turncrantz comes in pronounced, crescendoing in on the toms and firmly setting up the album’s quiet-to-loud dynamic. Enter the screeching guitar solos, duets between the drums and orchestral arrangements, all sounding appropriately lush and epic.
Things really get interesting about halfway through “Afrika,” when the tone changes and the drums settle into a nice groove. The prettiness dwindles, and the album suddenly feels dark and eerie (picture Bruce Banner transforming into the Hulk). At this turning point, the sound seems too big for the space, thanks to the producer Kurt Ballou (Kvelertak). This pattern continues in “Vorel,” as Turncrantz’s groovy drumbeats pulse through Sullivan and Cook’s more traditional metal guitar and bass riffs. If you’re not headbanging here, you need better headphones.
The album’s structure does become a tad predictable since each song lingers around the six or seven-minute mark, coming in slow and pretty, followed by loud and chaotic. The rolling drums continue to give the scraping guitars a sense of depth, but it’s almost too repetitive. Nonetheless, the group’s musical abilities break the mold with their final track, “Lisboa.” Swampier than the previous mellow sections of the album, this song perfectly wraps everything up with a neat little bow. Overall, Russian Circles constructed a work in which the slow parts resonate with the same intensity as the fast ones, all with the gentle care and delicacy one needs to catch fireflies.
Russian Circles hit the road this coming fall with support from Cloakroom and Helms Alee.
Aug 26 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon
Aug 27 Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center
Aug 29 Missoula, MT – Palace Lounge
Aug 30 Seattle, WA – Neumos
Aug 31 Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge – SOLD OUT
Sep 2 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
Sep 3 Los Angeles, CA – The Teragram Ballroom
Sep 5 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
Sep 6 Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
Sep 7 Englewood, CO – The Gothic Theatre
Sep 8 Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room
Sep 9 Chicago, IL – Metro
W/ HELMS ALEE
Sep 23-24 Cincinnati, OH @ Midpoint Music Fest
Sep 25 Detroit, MI – El Club
Sep 26 Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace
Sep 28 Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
Sep 29 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
Sep 30 Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw
Oct 1 Washington, DC – Rock & Roll Hotel
Oct 2 Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall
Oct 4 Atlanta, GA – Aisle 5
Oct 5 Birmingham, AL – Saturn
Oct 6 Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon
Oct 7 Houston, TX – Warehouse Live Studio
Oct 8 Austin, TX – Barracuda
Oct 9 Dallas, TX – RBC