RUSSIAN CIRCLES — Enter (review)

RUSSIAN CIRCLES — Enter album cover Album · 2006 · Metal Related Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Negoba
A Trip Into Calculated Complexity

Russian Circles was my introduction to post / math rock 3 years ago when they allowed free downloads of their New Macabre and Death Rides a Horse. Those songs were in frequent rotation on my newly acquired iPod, and RC virtually became the definition of Math Rock in my mind. (This is a little odd since they're actually at least as much post-metal as they are Math.) I've since purchased their whole album, Enter, and the entire album certainly lives up to the quality of the promo tracks.

The music is all instrumental, moody and incorporates interweaving lines between clean and variously distorted guitars along with the bass and a great variety of intricate drum lines. The guitars are performed by one artist using a loop pedal, and are reproduced in the same way live. Other famous musicians have used the idea just as extensively (jamboy Keller Williams being one of the most famous) but here the effect contributes to both the emotional build and mild feeling of drone that pulls the music together.

Compared to other math rockers, Russian Circles seem to have come from more of a metal background than an indie one. This is heard in their selection of guitar tones, precision of attack, an appreciation of sludge, and more linear time signatures. Just as much Pelican as Don Caballero, RC actually sit in a unique niche that may be appealing to a wider array of listeners than many of their peers on both sides of the aisle.

As others have noted, this album plays just as well continuously as it does as individual songs. There is simply an ongoing flow of circling crests and lulls, which actually never gets boring. Though the music is often quite busy, it always seems intentional. Very little seems chaotic or free form, though these compositions were almost certainly conceived during improvisational jams. However, I believe that the band also spent an equal amount of time organizing these ideas into formal, dynamic songs.

This album may indeed represent a masterpiece within its own specific genre, but it is not as musically expansive as the symphonic classics or even instrumental masterpieces like Anglagard or Mahavishnu Orchestra. It is certainly excellent and recommended, and seems like a great entry point into the math rock realm for metalheads.

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