Like a rollercoaster
There are reasons why people stick to recipes and formulas—they ensure you get it right (for the most part) every time. Musicians, time and time again, have just as much of a need for consistency and accuracy as any chef or mathematician. For Russian Circles, their specific blend of 11 instrumental herbs and spices has fairly successfully carried them through six albums and an EP thus far. Their albums tend to flow as steady as rivers do, surging from note to note and track to track faultlessly. Recently, Russian Circles have managed to craft tracks that not only fit in the puzzle of a grander scheme, but that also stand with strength on their own. It’s something that came through heavily on their last album Guidance, and it’s something they tried to keep going on their most recent release Blood Year. While there are still elements of what Russian Circles does best, there are moments where the individualism of the tracks seems a little displaced.
“Hunter Moon,” is a melodic and somewhat delicate way to open the record, with high note “Arluck” succeeding it. The smoothness of Russian Circles’ usual track transition is absent from here, but the track itself makes up for it. Stellar drum from Dave Turncrantz brings about classic Kurt Ballou familiarity before staggering into twirling melodies of bass and guitar riffs. Sandwiched in between it and the album’s other highlight come hints of fuzzy and sludgy doom from “Milano” and “Kohokia,” before “Sinaia” takes over.
On its own, “Sinaia” easily has the power of the tracks on the first part of the record combined. Russian Circles’ heavy post-rock presence is most seen here, with drums holding onto the reigns forcefully. Brusque and tremolo riffs and crashing cymbals are like black clouds and thunder rolling in, bringing about a temperamental feel to the track. That moodiness carries on into album closer “Quartered,” though its main expression is harshness.
Blood Year is kind of like a rollercoaster and depending on where you stand with consistency, that probably won’t be an issue. It’s a solid release, but it doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for expectation in the midst of Russian Circles’ established discography. It probably won’t blow your mind, though it might slightly intrigue it.