Set 28 2009, 20h32

Here comes the fear. Seriously, if you don’t get the creeps listening to this record, if you aren’t checking over your shoulder every two minutes, and if you’re not a sweating wreck at the end of it, then you’re doing it wrong. Ok, so Russian Circles have never been about sweetness and light but from the eerie orchestrations of ‘Fathom’, past the warped beats and claustrophobic cymbals of the title track, to the slow, sombre collapse of ‘Philos’, this is the darkest, the densest, and the heaviest they have ever been. But it is also, without a doubt, the best they’ve ever been too.

None of the accusations regularly leveled at post-rock (and, quite correctly, at the Circles last album, ‘Station’) make sense here. There are no stale repetitions, no recycling of old genre clichés, and this is definitely not music to drift off to, unless you want to wake up in a nightmare. And while there are quiet/loud dynamics at play, the shifts are never predictable and both ends of the scale make maximum impact. Riffs and rhythms tell tales before slowly devolving into static, Brian Cook’s (yes, he of Botch and These Arms Are Snakes fame) grinding bass tones swell in and out of earshot, and although there are rays of light, not least in the danceable beats of ‘Malko’, they’re like sunbeams through a thunderstorm, large and lengthy in places but doomed to be cornered, covered and crowded out by darkness.

Not that this is a taxing, hostile or hateful journey. No, the heaviness here comes more from mood and atmosphere than distorted down-tuning and as the utterly entrancing ‘Geneva’ whispers to a finish the urge isn’t to take a breather but start from the beginning again and again and again. From also-rans to true contenders in seven tracks then, Russian Circles have just claimed their place at the top table with Tool, Isis, and Mono. Marvellous.


  • Elgyn2

    Couldn't agree more. I was let down by Station because it failed to deliver on the promise of Enter (with a few notable exceptions). The more I listen to Geneva the more I realise it's a step past Enter. Great review!

    Out 1 2009, 10h30
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