Russian Circles
Geneva


4.5
superb

Review

by Alex C. Soothsayer USER (33 Reviews)
September 24th, 2009 | 115 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Russian Circles craft their best album to date, fusing together elements from their previous records to create a near-perfect album.

Russian Circles have never been a huge name in the post-rock/post-metal world. In a genre filled with many imitators and bands that seem untouchable, it is hard to stand out in the crowd. Russian Circles broke out onto the scene with a promising debut Enter. Enter didn't make waves in the music world, but it did show that Russian Circles was a band to look out for. Fusing together heavy riffs and undeniable talent, the Chicago trio had a lot going for them. On their sophomore release, Station, the band seemed to have taken two steps back when they ditched their technicality for a more traditional post-rock approach. Unfortunately, Station fell flat because of this, but it did show that the band was more than a one trick pony, and more importantly, they were more than willing to experiment with their sound. With fans on their feet anticipating the bands' latest release, Russian Circles unleashed their greatest album to date, Geneva.

Geneva goes above and beyond any expectations the fans may have had about the album. Russian Circles have taken their crushing riffs and unpredictable rhythms from Enter, and transfused them with the atmosphere and pastoral beauty of Station. It would be easy to compare the band to their peers in the post-rock and post-metal realms, but it wouldn't be fair to the band. While there are somber moments of beauty, reminiscent of Mono, and brutally heavy riffs that recall Pelican-- Russian Circles take everything they are good at and focus their talent and energy to put their unique twist on what you would typically think of as post-rock. Another factor is the size of the band. While many post-rock bands can have as many as twenty-something members (I'm looking at you Godspeed), or the more typical five members, Circles works as a trio. While it might be hard to imagine how a band whose goal is to craft epic compositions can be run with only three members, it may be the bands largest strength. Guitarist Mike Sullivan works like a classical composer, using various techniques to trigger certain emotions out of the listener. From spaced out guitar lines to distorted riffs, Sullivan is incredibly versatile. Drummer Dave Turncrantz is absolutely mind-blowing on Geneva. While Dave's drumming has always been a highlight of Russian Circles' music, on Geneva Dave outdoes himself. Solidifying himself as a permanent member, Brian Cook returns on bass guitar. With a resume of former bands such as Botch and These Arms Are Snakes, Cook is no stranger to music. While Cook only did session work on Circles' previous release, he has composed all of the low-end for [i]Geneva[i]. Also joining the band in certain places of the record is violinist Susan Voelz and cellist Allison Chesley, who do a great job of adding the orchestral feel to the album.

Opening up with the distinct sound of the cello and violin, it is immediately noticeable that this is not your typical Russian Circles album. Booming tribal drums enter before Sullivan lets out a short heavy riff. Sullivan trades off riffs with Cook before each member locks in on a brutal groove. Just as things start to get too loud, the band comes to a stop, and the opener 'Fathom' fades out on cello and violin. 'Fathom' incorporates many of the themes found on Geneva. Things never get too loud. Just as what would typically be a cathartic post-rock climax feels like it is coming on, the band comes to a halt, and the band will fall back onto either guitar or drums. The bass acts like the aggravator, barking at the other instruments to get up to speed. The first three songs are a kick to the face, bringing back memories of Enter. The title track is a balls out display of the band's talents, never letting up in its 5:50 runtime. 'Melee' takes its time to get going, exhibiting a perfect mix between the previous two albums. 'Hexed All' paces the album by giving the listener a rest from the mayhem before segueing into another crusher, 'Malko'. The last three tracks will bring back thoughts of Station, but arranged significantly better. The eight minute epic 'When The Mountains Came to Muhammad' feels like half that. The track uses nearly inaudible news reports and strings to create a feeling of desperation and hopelessness. Ending on another massive track, 'Philos' is about as close to post-rock the band will get. Starting off quite, the band uses the violin and cello to feed off a saddened tone. The track speeds along, coming to a point where a climax would be, but falls again onto drums. Ending on electronic noises and bass feedback, the band has done their job, leaving the listener with thoughts of 'what's next?' and a feeling of resolution.

With the release of Geneva Russian Circles have cemented themselves in the music community. Not quite post-metal, and not quite post-rock, pinning Geneva down to a particular genre is futile. And there is no need to; the music speaks for itself. While their debut showed an up and coming band struggling to find their footing, and their sophomore record taking a completely new approach, Geneva masterfully combines everything the band has done into a near-perfect package. The only question that can be asked is how will the band top this?



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user ratings (511)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Prophet178
September 24th 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Album stream here: http://www.suicidesqueeze.net/stream/russiancircles/

If you haven't heard it already, get on it!

Mordecai.
September 24th 2009


8279 Comments


Nice review. I guess i'll check this out, i didn't like Station though.

Prophet178
September 24th 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I don't think many people did, but this album completely redeems them.

Boognish
September 24th 2009


1003 Comments


Good review, i pos'd. I still haven't been able to listen to this enough yet but i don't think i'll like it as much as you do. I want to like this band but they make me drift off every time.

Prophet178
September 24th 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks dude. I wish you had more ratings so I could tell a little better whether you would or not, but once you get past 'Malko' it starts to sound more like Station. I would give the first 5 tracks a try, and if those bore you the album probably isn't for you.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 24th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

better than station. not as good as the other one.

Relinquished
September 24th 2009


25211 Comments


Yeah. Enter is way better than this, not to say that this isn't good, though

MassiveAttack
September 24th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hmmm.... 4.5 seems a bit pushy, but I'll listen to this sooner or later. Station was utter boring steaming pile of crap. I liked Enter a lot, sophomore effort really was a letdown. Hope this isn't the same story.

Relinquished
September 24th 2009


25211 Comments


Station wasn't bad but it was boring.

MassiveAttack
September 24th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes I'm being overly-critical, but that's my point - boredom. I can't stand not being sucked into an album even if its only for one track. Its just too mediocre too warrant anything noteworthy about it.

Relinquished
September 24th 2009


25211 Comments


Only a few parts caught my attention, but the rest...

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
*drool on my arm*

Powerban
September 24th 2009


2380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Someone entered a station and made a Geneva Convention. Geneva is a beast of a song, but from 1:15 on and a bit the background guitars remind me of intro to The End Of The Beginning by GIAA.

I liked Station and Enter nearly equally. This maybe about the same, I'll let it grow more. I still think these guys have yet to release their magnum opus.

Prophet178
September 24th 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Hmm, I think it will be tough for them to top this, I mean, they took the best parts of both their albums and mashed them together. The next album would have to be a complete perfection on the formula they created here.

I'm still very interested to hear Pelican's new release, it has some tough competition with this.

Powerban
September 24th 2009


2380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Pelican's release will be interesting. Doubt they'll beat TFIOTWBTT. City Of Echoes was meh.

Prophet178
September 24th 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

True. I really like the direction they were going with Ephemeral, and the songs they've released off the new one already sound great. It should be a strong release.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
September 25th 2009


7026 Comments


I can already tell this is probably a 3/5. Might check it out.

bodiesinflight57
September 25th 2009


870 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sadly will probably have to wait till Christmas to get this...looking forward to it, I like this band

jagride
September 25th 2009


2355 Comments


That's it, i'm done with this band. By all accounts they should be very good, but they have a distinct lack of new musical ideas. No depth whatsoever. This album drags, just like the last one.

moderndaydrool
September 25th 2009


322 Comments


Good review, and from what i've heard of it, this album is a return to form.

Can't wait to hear it in full.

Photon
September 25th 2009


1292 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sounds good so far ..i like all their albums



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