Russian Circles
Blood Year


2.5
average

Review

by Eames USER (6 Reviews)
August 2nd, 2019 | 104 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It's all so tiresome...

There’s a flowchart when it comes to discographies. New bands at first are trying to find their unique sound. If they succeed, they release few albums featuring it, which become band’s magnum opuses. Then a band is faced with a dilemma: continue following the formula and risk boring people or try to change the sound and risk alienation. While the latter can fail terribly, it can also succeed, raising the band into new heights. On the other hand, while safer, the first option is ultimately a guaranteed slow decline.

There’s also this “magic” rule, “The Rule Of Three”. In visual art, it says that composition should have three focal points, so that eyes can move in a loop. In marketing, it says that customer should have three options, so that they both have something to choose from while not being overwhelmed. In album sequencing, it says that you should have two similar tracks followed by a different one, so that you can both establish and break the progression. Just like with tracks, The Rule Of Three also applies to album releases themselves. Two similar albums in a row is fine since you can compare small differences but a third one will become redundant.

This brings us to the actual review. Russian Circles mastered their post-metal sound with Empros, which came out 8 years ago. The tracks were finally heavy enough to differentiate from interludes, the climaxes were worth the crescendos and the production was no longer tinny. Memorial was even slightly better by increasing the compositional contrast and having a proper vocal track (which I thank for introducing me to Chelsea Wolfe). But then the stagnation set in. Guidance while adequate, was just “Memorial pt.2” or “Empros pt.3”. It would be fine if the predecessors didn’t exist but now it’s just more of the same.

Unfortunately, Blood Year is “Memorial pt.3” or “Empros pt.4”. If you were waiting for Russian Circles to try something new, you’ll be sorely disappointed, again. If you like to listen to their discography on shuffle, then you get another 7 tracks to pick from. Ultimately, there’s not much point in writing about Blood Year itself – just read a review of any of past the three albums and it will suffice. Again, the rating is what it is not because the album is bad per se – it’s on par with the previous three. If you like post-metal and never listened to Russian Circles, you will be pleased. But albums gain points if the artist is at least trying new things, and they lose points if they keep re-releasing same thing over and over.

Neural networks can already analyze and then procedurally generate classical music in a limited capacity. If this was 2030, they could do the same with Russian Circles. This doesn't diminish the music but it gets the point across.



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user ratings (89)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Eames
August 2nd 2019


47 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Why is it that post-rock/metal albums, while being free from structural restraints of verse-chorus, tend to sound so similar to one another anyway?



Edit: I could give it 3.0 now.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
August 2nd 2019


4833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

Agreed. They have been dropping the same stuff for a decade now. Memorial is my favorite of theirs. This is a solid LP, but doesn't bring anything new. 'Sinaia' might be my favorite from Blood Year.

Digging: Cloudkicker - Unending

JS19
August 2nd 2019


7267 Comments


What really kills off the album is the weird instrumental tone of the bass. I would be down for another run of the mill, fun, well written RS album even if it was even more of the same

But this doesn't have the punch of any other album so what is the incentive to listen?

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
August 2nd 2019


4833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

The cover is cool tho

Pikazilla
August 2nd 2019


2372 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

A 2.5? Damn.

Eames
August 2nd 2019


47 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It would be 4 if it came out in 2011.

Pikazilla
August 2nd 2019


2372 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

For me, these guys are the most 3.5 instru-post band out there.

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 2nd 2019


9962 Comments


Post-rock/metal is very easy music to autopilot on it seems.

Nicely written review, very concise and to the point, was a good read.

Digging: WRVTH - No Rising Sun

nightbringer
August 2nd 2019


512 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"For me, these guys are the most 3.5 instru-post band out there."



I haven't listened to loads from these guys yet but that's the sense I'm getting.



brandaao
August 2nd 2019


157 Comments


Starting my first spin on this one.

Geneva is actually my favorite Russian Circles album, and I like guidance better than Empros or Memorial, so I'm getting the feeling that I'll probably dig this one more than the reviewer.

Let's see.

Edit: after my first spin I'm thinking this is a strong 3.5. Great stuff.

sizeofanocean
August 2nd 2019


1328 Comments


Haven't listened but damn that's harsh. I could see this being not so great, since they really haven't taken any measures to change their sound even a bit it seems

Sinternet
August 2nd 2019


20037 Comments


guidance was a departure into more ambient stuff and it happens to be one of their best

Digging: Taylor Swift - Lover

Relinquished
August 2nd 2019


40782 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

review is ok if it actually talked about the music

Demon of the Fall
August 2nd 2019


12010 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

So if I liked the first 3 am I better off just jamming Memorial, instead of bothering with this one? Sounds like it might be the case.

Digging: Tropical Fuck Storm - Braindrops

Relinquished
August 2nd 2019


40782 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

you literally can't go wrong on either or

Eames
August 2nd 2019


47 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I like Memorial the most too. Feels the most as an album due to bookends. Again – you can arrange the tracks from all 4 albums interchangeably.

jmh886
August 2nd 2019


2404 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

underwhelming on first listen and the last few albums have not really been growers either so I am not optimistic. Sound is indeed growing tired. Nice review. Drummer can still hang with the best of em though.

LelandAB
August 2nd 2019


443 Comments


New Pelican >>>> this

JAV
August 2nd 2019


3220 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Always annoying when bands become stagnant, I will still check this out at least.

pjquinones747
August 2nd 2019


3037 Comments


Great review.

Digging: Defeater - Empty Days and Sleepless Nights



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