Russian Circles - Guidance (Sargent House) 2016
There’s always been something about Russian Circles that takes the post-crowd beyond their comfort zones, and while Empros’ astonishing scope and depth might have shown the sharpest fangs, every one of their releases has demonstrated some facet that opposed the often-clichéd state of instrumental rock.
Happily, Guidance is no slouch either, a sleekly ferocious collection that shows that there are as many permeations to their formula as there are drops in the ocean. Sonically, it bears all the hallmarks of their work, with Dave Turncrantz’s skidding rolls and brass-laden bombast complimenting and occasionally contrasting with Mike Sullivan’s heavenly arpeggios and descents into blood-flecked metal, but their pushing towards the extremes is even more pronounced. Mota verges on Darkthrone territory, all savage blastbeats and distorted fury, while Lisboa’s sparse, deliberate Americana provides the antithesis to the album’s heavier terrain, images of sun-blistered plains and a post-apocalyptic sense of calm exemplifying the Chicagoans’ ability to act as much as a visual treat as an audible one.
The shifts between poles aren’t always the gentlest, the transitions often jarring the listener out of whatever reverie they’ve been lulled into, yet again, it plays to their strengths, sidestepping cinematic soars and choosing a path that is more natural in its violence and grace.
Free of melodrama and pretence and laden with more colossal riffing than you can shake a pedal board at, Guidance sounds like a band widening a channel that they, and they alone, have created.