In the not-too-distant past, when one discussed 'instrumental' Heavy Metal acts, thoughts would invariably turn to the most obvious of choices à la Karma To Burn, Pelican, Sunn O))). However, when guitarist Mike Sullivan and bassist Colin DeKuipe (both formerly of the woefully-unsung Dakota/Dakota) joined forces with former Riddle Of Steel drummer Dave Turncrantz as Russian Circles, the resulting sonic ingenuity would leave an immediate, long-lasting impact on the sub-genre(s) as a whole. After amicably parting ways DeKuipe (and recruiting ex-Botch/These Arms Are Snakes bassist Brian Cook) following the release of their full-length debut Enter (2006), the group quickly solidified their reputation as a bona fide creative force not be ignored via a series of universally-praised offerings. Now, with the issuance of the touted Blood Year, their latest--and quite possibly greatest--offering to date now upon us, they at last appear poised for unprecedented global recognition.
On the stellar Blood Year (2019), an expertly assembled seven song collection of instrumental Progressive Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the maddeningly infectious gem “Hunter Moon” and the relentlessly pummeling first single “Arluck”, immediately command the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Effortlessly flexing their woefully-underrated creative muscles early and often, the group yields a series of initial auditory offerings that are as impressive as they are thoroughly satisfying. While not necessarily groundbreaking and not yet legendary, the group easily exceeds even the most optimistic of expectations--many of which were unrealistically lofty following the well-deserved successes of Guidance (2016) and Memorial (2013). Maintaining an artful, never precarious balance of power and melody, the group lays the foundations for the undisputed and virtuosic mastery that soon follows.