Russian Circles have now added three more shows in Asia immediately following their Japan dates in July. Then on August 11th they will be playing a free show at Millennium Park In their hometown of Chicago as part of the…
Russian Circles deal in polarities. From minimalist progressions to expansive crescendos, the Chicago trio’s sound oscillates from one extreme to another. Over the course of five albums and ten years, the they’ve made a career of defying the clichés of post-rock, eschewing delay pedal abuse and the loud/quiet/loud dynamic in favour complex song structures, gargantuan rhythms and unpredictable movements. For guitarist Mike Sullivan, it’s all about the emotion.
“That’s the most important part, the feeling of it.That’s the only real point — that it sits with you at an emotional level. Not just, ‘oh, that’s a cool riff, that’s a cool drum solo,’ but that it just kind of creeps into the dark spots settles somewhere.”
Those dark spots are most apparent on Russian Circles’ fifth record, Memorial. While the trio’s brand of post-rock has rarely been described is rarely described as uplifting, Memorial is easily the their most downbeat record. “It’s more melancholic, a little more bleak and more intense overall, and that’s pretty much the point,” says Sullivan. “The song titles have a meaning to us — cryptic meanings, different meanings to all of us in a way — but the whole point is how it makes you feel.”
Russian Circles works in a relatively esoteric area – an instrumental trio that finds the sweet spot at the intersection of metal, hard rock, progressive and experimental music. Its five albums, culminating with last year’s elegiac “Memorial" (Sargent House), demonstrate just how expressive and dynamic a rock band without a lead vocalist can be. If an album can be both thrashy and poignant, “Memorial” is it.
March 10th 2014, The El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles CA: Chicago-based instrumental heavy rock trio Russian Circles have been going from strength to strength in recent years, and since the last time I saw them headline the Troubadour in December 2011, they’ve traveled quite a fair distance as a band, literally and figuratively. Their latest album ‘Memorial’ has gained widespread praise and as a consequence, they’ve been getting booked on plenty of tours both as headliners and opening act. Currently, they’re approaching the end of a headline US tour with support from Helms Alee and KEN Mode, and played at a Sold-Out El Rey Theater in Western Los Angeles last night.
Instru-metal trio Russian Circles long has been a heavyweight presence in the local scene, releasing five albums, including last year’s monstrous “Memorial,” over the course of its decade together. Now that the band has both a burger and a beer to its name, though, it’s safe to say the guys have really made it.
Just this month the crew landed a burger on the menu at hard-rock haven Kuma’s Corner — a grilled patty topped with braised venison, fried beets and more — and DryHop Brewers released a Russian Imperial Stout named for Russian Circles’ 2006 song “Death Rides a Horse.”
It’s certainly not the group’s first brush with fame, however. Band members Mike Sullivan and Dave Turncrantz actually graced the RedEye cover just last year. For an article about an outdoor hockey league.
"There was no mention of the band whatsoever," said guitarist and Logan Square resident Sullivan, by phone. "It was just a picture of us two longhairs playing hockey outside and some [headline] like ‘Hockey’s back!’"
Are your Google Alerts going crazy with everything that’s happening in Russia? That’s funny. Everything that’s going on in Russia I found out through our Facebook page. There’s all this Russian spam all over the site, so it’s like, “All right, here’s what’s going on.” I don’t think we’ll be going back to Russia anytime soon. That whole scene is dramatic and unfortunate. Hopefully it doesn’t get worse, but it’s not looking too good.
Have you played there often? We played there on three different tours. We did St. Petersburg and Moscow last fall.
Rock trio Russian Circles sold out Neumo’s Tuesday, and the entry line was accompanied by late-arriving fans, desperately trying to purchase second-hand tickets.
The band opened with a dose of feedback as they set up and settled in, then broke the calm with an onslaught of noise that rode peaks and valleys, but never really stopped. They put “309,” the twisted album opener from 2011′s “Empros,” on full display, and from their latest album, “Memorial,” the eloquent guitar-tapped interlude “Ethel” was used as a lead-in to a punishing wall of riffs.
It was an exceptionally well-thought-out set that flowed like a river through tranquil spots, then crashed like a waterfall over rocks. Not a word was spoken the entirety of the set, nor did one need to be.
I’ve written about all three of these bands’ power in the live realm over the past year: Russian Circleshere, KEN modehere, and Inter Arma both here and here. There’s not much more to say about them, beyond that all three seem to get better the more time they spend on the road. (Which is a lot.) If any of these bands comes to your town, go see them, especially if you haven’t seen them before. If you have seen them before, go again. If you live in the sticks and despair of the possibility, you can witness some of the magic via Unartig’s full-set videos of each band HERE.
One of the best crossover-metal tours of the year so far swung through NYC when post-metal/post-rockers Russian Circles, furious post-hardcore rippers KEN mode and the psychedelic/black metal leanings of Inter Arma hit Bowery Ballroom this past Thursday (2/20) at…