Russian Circles
Guidance


5.0
classic

Review

by MercuryToHell CONTRIBUTOR (38 Reviews)
August 14th, 2016 | 179 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ballou production caps off a truly glorious piece of art.

I begin this review by embarking on something of a challenge: I have no intention of referencing a single separated track on Guidance. For me, it would do a disservice to the cohesion of the record, and frankly the actual beginnings, middles and ends are academic, as every movement drags the listener deep inside and makes one feel and engage rather than just listen.

But what actually makes this album and this band stand out? Well, first off, production. While this record doesn’t insist on painstakingly cutting out every hiss, fuzz or imperfection, Guidance is lush, smooth and subtle yet dense. It all feels so natural for the three-piece to sound this tight but so sprawling. The end product doesn’t satisfy in how clean it has come out, but in how personal it all sounds, akin to sitting in God City Studios, peering over the mixing desk, absorbing it all but not touching a single dial. While previous entries in their discography had a charm in the lo-fi approach, album number six hints that it could delight the purest of audiophiles, and yet decides not to. Whether this is a conscious decision by the band or not is a mystery, but Guidance sounds like a perfect live album.

Musically, it is fair to say that whilst Russian Circles haven’t exactly abandoned post-metal, chugging riffs and gritty guitar tones serve as a flourish rather than the base of this record. Guidance is overwhelmingly warm for the most part, encouraging the listener to step in and allow the waves to sweep them under with reckless abandon for when the waters get their most choppy and abrasive - for those that have concerns: there are zero disappointments on the heaviness front here. Even at the most quiet moments, there is no shortage of atmosphere, whether in blissful serenity or satisfaction in the knowledge that the storm is around the corner. There are tinges of acoustic folk, Godspeed-esque passages of reverb-drenched fuzz, minimalist mid-sections, and everything in between (which just happens to be the most delicious glue).

Moreover, a striking observation made from quite early on is that Russian Circles are under zero obligation to alienate anyone with implausible time signatures or technical insanity. There is much to be appreciated in musical showmanship if it fulfils the brief of the actual song behind it, but more so on Guidance than on their previous efforts, the trio use their obvious talents into maximising the basics - some could argue (and have) that this inspires a lack of immediacy or allows the record to rest on its laurels, but as far as my own opinion is concerned, this is not the case. Every section is explored to full potential almost free of arrogance or pressure to over-perform and makes the finished article so simple to engage with. The record glides effortlessly between light and dark, mixing twinkling sections of beauty with crushingly bleak walls of noise, and refreshingly never once feels like an awkward juxtaposition.

In essence, Guidance is everything this reviewer could want in a Russian Circles album. It could be the backing to a Shakespearian melodrama, it could be the best concert you could ever attend, it could be the soundtrack to the laziest of Sundays, but whatever your purpose, please give yourself to this record, be it for one listen or many, many more. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m jumping back in.



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user ratings (252)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2016


1237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sorry it's been a while again, mixture of being super busy and not really having any records that I really wanted to sink my teeth into.

This, however, was a treat.

ashcrash9
August 14th 2016


2482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"or allows the record to rest on it’s laurels"

*its



spot-on review, glad this finally has one

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2016


1237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Edited - I ALWAYS get that wrong.

AsleepInTheBack
August 14th 2016


3897 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's that good? Sweet

ashcrash9
August 14th 2016


2482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I personally wouldn't 5 this but it's certainly up there in contention for the band's best album and is probably my favorite post-rock/post-metal release this year so

Asdfp277
August 14th 2016


14297 Comments


is this actually good? i'm an impatient guy i can't listen to instrumental music but i'll do an exception

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2016


1237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm pretty much a late-comer to post-rock as a whole, but this just does it for me.

An objective 5? Possibly not, but for me it ticks all of the right boxes and it's a perfect representation of what I want in the genre.

ashcrash9
August 14th 2016


2482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"Calla" rips so hard

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2016


1237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It seriously does. Highlight for me at the moment, but Vorel and Lisboa are running it close. I still struggle to pick tracks apart in general because I don't really ever see myself listening to a track off this outside the context of the whole record...

ashcrash9
August 14th 2016


2482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

That's the main one that sticks out for me, I guess mostly cause it's the grand climax of the record to an effect. Even though Asa is "just an intro," I find it jaw-droppingly gorgeous on its own too

Flugmorph
August 14th 2016


16421 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

wow thats a 5.

listened to it one time before, it was good but...

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2016


1237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have no qualms admitting that this is a 5 from the heart rather than the head - but then objectivity and personal reviewing are fairly at odds with each other anyway, right?

Like if someone 1's something I adore, it's their call as long as it doesn't just shit on something for the sake of it, and for me this was just beautiful and engaging, nothing inspired me to knock a .5 off for the sake of attempted objectivity.

AsleepInTheBack
August 14th 2016


3897 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've rated some of my first post rock albums excessively highly just because they hit me like nothing before, so I get that. Definitely gonna check this one though, I loved Enter so this should suit me just fine

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2016


1237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I had a similar experience with The Fall Of Math, but even that slightly alienated me in the complexity of some of it - not to mention I didn't hear it until 11 years after it was released.

To clumsily hash in an Olympic reference, for me this feels like a minimum-frills dive executed to absolute perfection. Simplicity is overlooked.

ashcrash9
August 14th 2016


2482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Minimum-frills is definitely how I'd describe this. There's not much to examine in terms of songwriting; everything sounds really natural and organic, and that makes it much more emotional than a lot of similar stuff out there that intentionally tries to incorporate "dez swells" or "dat tremolo" or other "post-rock moment" staples. It's pure passion on this thing, and I highly respect that.

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2016


1237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^^ Perfectly put. It does everything the right way without being clichéd or dull.

CaimanJesus
August 14th 2016


2634 Comments


Nice review pos'd

Hawks
August 14th 2016


48955 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not a 5, but great album yeah.

dbizzles
August 14th 2016


8920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pos'd [2]

I already like this a lot better than the last.

FullOfSounds
August 14th 2016


15328 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome review, pos.

Good now I finally have someplace where I can talk about how good Calla is



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