Russian Circles - _Geneva_
(Suicide Squeeze / Sargent House, 2009)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (8 out of 10)
A distant sound lingers, a pounding drum pattern arises. Are you sure they're back? So soon? Yes, they are. Russian Circles are back with _Geneva_, their third album, and it is yet another transcendental musical experience. If you think that instrumental music played by only a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer can be boring, then I pity you for never having listened to this band. There's a lot more to Russian Circles' music than their compounded guitar layering, their driving and rhythmic bass lines and the ever so inventive and intelligent drumming. Their music has an overwhelming ethos that keeps the listener bolted and glued where they are as long as it runs.

Genre freaks, please back off, for this is not an album for your mindless scrutiny. The serene, almost palpable beauty of "Hexed All" and the grandeur of "Fathom" are much more than a futile genre debate. Now I won't go as far as saying that Russian Circles smash genre standards across the wall, but I guess it's safe to say that their music serpentines freely around the borderlines of post-rock and post-metal. "Malko" is arguably the heaviest track on this superb effort, and the ten minute epic "Philos" may in fact be the best Russian Circles song to date. The title track "Geneva" is another gripping track that starts off with a chugging heavy metal riff and then takes us on a trip through layers of sound. The acme of this record for me has to be "When the Mountain Comes to Mohamed", and for a truly mesmerizing experience, try listening to it while calmly staring at an actual mountain.

The sound quality of _Geneva_ doesn't really differ from that of the previous two albums. None of them is overtly polished, which prevents the instruments from sounding electronically processed, yet it's not on the sloppy side of the spectrum so as to put the new listener off. So far, one cannot really pinpoint significant differences in musical direction between all of Russian Circles' albums. They do have a sound of their own and are highly creative within its seemingly invisible boundaries. _Enter_ and _Station_ should be proud of their new baby brother, because together they have formed a formidable amalgamation between post-rock's construction of textured layers of sound with its atmosphere, and metal's powerful aesthetics and copious creative variations.


(article published 13/1/2010)

12/1/2013 A El Naby 8 Russian Circles - Memorial
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