Review: Russian Circles ‘Blood Year’

If you’re reading this, then it’s quite likely you already know who Russian Circles are…maybe even listened to their earlier offerings. If not, here is a quick introduction.

Russian Circles 'Blood Year'

Russian Circles are an instrumental (post, maybe hypnotic, they could be squeezed into a number of musical compartments) rock band from Chicago, consisting of three members. I won’t go in to a load of detail as the Wiki page is pretty accurate and the interweb is a wonderful thing for those who care to delve into the history of the band.

Blood Year is their 7th studio album since their first release back in 2006 so they’ve been around for some time. It isn’t a huge departure, or a completely new direction…it’s pretty much more of the same, with some degree of evolution. This might sound negative, it’s certainly not.

I’ve spent a LOT of time in this genre, much of that time with the music of bands like Russian Circles. There is something about this band that draws you in and Blood Year continues to feed the addiction. I’m not gonna break this down track by track because I don’t think this record was meant to be swallowed in chunks. It’s more of a journey (yeah, I said it). It really is.

Melancholic, reverb soaked intros move into rhythmic swirls. This is a body of music. You would be forgiven for getting totally lost in it, with moments of “what track am I listening to now?”. The riffs circle around you, breathing, pulsing. It’s heavy but not because it’s tuned down 27 semi tones. It carries its own weight.

Listen to Blood Year while you’re sat at home, on your own, wearing headphones and staring into the abyss. The whole record is a lesson in introspective hypnosis.

You’ll find post-rock flights of fancy, moments of sadness, guitar riffs that slow down to halftime without any warning, short black metal inspired passages, doom (but not that kind of doom) tempos that lurch in and out of cosmic delays and some impressive, hypnotic guitar work. All underlined by an absolutely stunning bass sound and an almost tribal drumming style.

Russian Circles can play, what they do requires discipline…they need to hold back just long enough before bringing in the next change, to allow enough space for the listener to understand. They do this with ease, like it’s built in to their programming.

Some will say “Hey, I don’t get it, it’s boring, it goes on and on and it all sounds the same”. Those people simply don’t get it and should be banned from going within 500 feet of any instrumental album. But hey, you probably won’t find such lost souls scrolling through the pages of an underground music site/blog. They’ll be sat with the same 10 songs stuck on repeat while driving to the nearest fast food place to order the same burger they’ve been eating for 10 years.

This album is not a burger….or something. I digress.

Listen to Blood Year while you’re sat at home, on your own, wearing headphones and staring into the abyss. The whole record is a lesson in introspective hypnosis. No, you won’t find ultra memorable licks or guitar hero antics, you simply won’t, so don’t go looking for them.

What you will find is an album of 7 movements, each one threatening to shatter into a million pieces while simultaneously feeling powerful and solid. You’ll be given a dose of something that’s almost familiar, while slightly unsettling. Let yourself fall in to it. You can thank me later when you finally crawl out of your hole and find the sunlight.

Label: Sargent House
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Keeran Williams