When Russian Circles puts out new music, you listen. Their newest release, Memorial, is no exception. Russian Circles are certainly known for their powerful chugging post-metal riffs, and those are found throughout the album, but in addition, more quiet and tamed down sections are in abundance. This back and forth between quiet and heavy parts creates an intriguing listening experience that’s always keeping you wondering where it will take you next.
“Memoriam,” the first track on Memorial, provides a beautiful intro point to the album, with an abundant use of strings and ambiance, as well as a haunting acoustic guitar riff that plays throughout the song. As “Memoriam” fades out, “Deficit” immediately greets us with an immensely loud riff, polar opposite of the previous track. “Deficit” chugs along with the heavy and distorted bass line pairing with drummer Dave Turncrantz’s absolutely thunderous drum kit, all the while soaring tremolo guitar riffs give the song a high end to pair with the doom of everything else.
“1777” begins on the more mild side, and eventually builds up into a booming wall-of-sound reminiscent of what I imagine the end of the world would sound like. Memorial kind of continues this polarizing theme of loud and soft, as the next track, “Cheyenne,” brings back another acoustic guitar and builds ever so slightly over it’s roughly four and a half minutes. We then get dealt another crushing blow, as the next track, “Burial,” turns out one of the doom-iest sounding Russian Circle’s track to date.
“Ethel” provides us with less of the heavy side, dropping the metal out a bit and creating a song that comes through as a straightforward post-rock track, with several builds and a final release of that post-rock catharsis near the end of the track. The band then choses to crush us yet again with the next track, “Lebaron.” Pounding drums and bass that could probably give you heart problems if listened to at a high enough volume send this track into the closing song on the album.
“Memorial,” the title and final track, features vocals from a fellow Sargent House artist Chelsea Wolfe. These two artists blend perfectly together as the band provides a rework of the opening track, while Chelsea Wolfe’s vocals are muddled in reverb and delay, creating a lovely soundscape that closes out the album.
Russian Circles are a band that continues to break free from the stereotypical style of chugging post-metal, offering differences that are not often heard from other bands in the same field. With that being said, I do however offer up one piece of stereotypical advice, listen to this LOUD.