For over a decade, Russian Circles have been painting soundscapes with strokes of dynamism and tonal manipulation.
The Chicago outfit's impeccable ability to create and control tension before releasing that energy through expressive outbursts and epic progressions has been the defining element that distinguishes the band from their heavy prog-instrumental peers. Their newest release, Guidance, is yet another prophetic portrait conjuring apocalyptic dimensions in the minds of those who listen.
The album begins with the gentle meanderings of opening track "Asa," introducing a blissful and sedate atmosphere that quickly gives way to the thunderous drums of "Vorel," obliterating any sense of peace. These aggressive rhythms and murderous riffs are brilliantly laced together by vivid, interweaving, harmonic passages that deliver a moment of respite for your eardrums before once again subjecting them to Russian Circles' marauding, inundating wall of sound.
The track "Overboard" serves as the only real break from the chaos on tracks like "Mota" and "Afrika," but it could easily be interpreted as a setup for "Calla," a devastating track that, whether intentional or not, bears a black-metalesque tone due to the slow, dredging, guitar progression that occupies the majority of the song's first half.
Compared to Memorial, the band's previous release, Guidance plays it straight and heavy, granting the listener fewer moments of mercy from the onslaught of Russian Circles' music. (Sargent House)