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.