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Russian Circles – Memorial

I’ve been following the Chicago based trio Russian Circles for quite some time. Their album Geneva caught my ear via a iTunes genius recommendation, of all things, and I’ve subsequently bought each album thereafter. Russian Circles tend to walk that fine line between post-rock and metal (which some have ham-fistedly dubbed post-metal). They are in my opinion a TRUE Power Trio. Their latest album Memorial is said by the band to be inspired by Pink Floyd’s Animals however it is far more emotive than its aged source of inspiration. The album starts off with a short acoustic guitar number that quickly ascends into the monstrous riff display of ‘Deficit’. The cryptically named ‘I777’ greets the listener with a rather warm melancholic opening before dropping into what I can only call ‘the post-rock build’ to the 10th degree (but it really does go to 11). Side A ends with another smaller melodic number which provides a perfect side closer.

The second side gets rolling with the track ‘Burial’. This cut displays the most conflict and I’m pretty sure the band are using it as their show opener because it gets down to business pretty fast. There even seems to be a bit of black metal inspiration to the guitar work. Such grief-ridden riffage continues however until we are greeted to ‘Ethel’, a winding, melodic slow-burn of a track that is the most uplifting on the album. ‘Ethel’ invokes positive feelings and is a nice change after the emotional bleakness of ‘Burial’. While the riffage returns with ‘Lebaron’, this track showcases the trio’s interplay and ability to fill the massive amount of space needed for making music this big. However there are moments where you can finally tell there are only three people playing. I think this might be why ‘Lebaron’ is my album favorite.

The title track closes the album in bookend fashion to the opener and what a beauty it is. Gothic siren Chelse Wolfe provides vocals in her signature style which adds a hazy feel to the track. Adding her at the album closer in this way has a great effect as it implies a feeling that the memorialized can be forever with you through such remembrance.

Few bands make something this well constructed with such a heavy theme in tow but Russian Circles have succeed. Highly affecting stuff.

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