Russian Circles Memorial

Russian CirclesMemorial
Russian Circles' fifth studio album has a bolder, more polarizing sound than previous efforts. Soft, haunting melodies are pinned up against monster, house-shaking riffs. The Chicago, IL three-piece have always been careful in allowing each member to showcase their musicianship within their releases and Memorial is no exception. Second track "Deficit" is a multi-layered song featuring grandiose, pummelling riffs (courtesy of guitarist Mike Sullivan), a rumbling, bass-driven build-up (from bassist Brian Cook) and Dave Turncrantz's earth-shattering, half-time rhythm drumming. It's the perfect summation of this eight-song opus. True to their moniker, Russian Circles work in cyclical patterns — opener "Memoriam" shares the same lilting, melancholy melody as the titular closer. The difference lies in the addition of guest vocals by Chelsea Wolfe on the latter track. The operatic tone of her vocals is perfectly paired with the ebb and flow of the song's rhythm. However, some of the riff-heavy build-ups fall short with lacklustre follow-ups in a number of tracks — the sole aspect dampening the album. There's no questioning, however, the intricate craftsmanship that makes Memorial a memorable release in Russian Circles' ever-expanding discography. (Sargent House)