Review : Russian Circles - Geneva
AllmusicThe relationship between the calm before the storm and the storm itself is a crucial element of post-rock. The patience and restraint to allow the music to build slowly and organically is an incredible virtue within the genre, and it's a virtue that Russian Circles have been growing into over the course of their career. On Geneva, their third full-length outing, we find a band that has matured as songwriters. With a larger, more atmospheric set of tools at their disposal, the band crafts songs that are more about buildup than release. Instead of down the usual "build, build, build, destroy" route that's so common, the songs grow organically, with changes unfolding so naturally that the big finish is more of a logical conclusion than an explosion. Brian Cook's (of Botch and These Arms Are Snakes) impact on this record is more apparent than it was on Station. His gritty, fuzzed-out bass provides a dynamic contrast to the lighter moments, providing a bit of sonic dirt for the more ethereal guitar parts to play in. This influence might also have something to do with Russian Circles' further tempering of their metal tendencies. While Geneva has its heavier moments (like "Fathom" and "Geneva"), they're not as out-and-out metal as their past work, more reminiscent of Pelican's later work or the sludgy harmony of Zozobra. Given their past work, it would be easy for Russian Circles to simply play it quiet for a while and then absolutely bowl over the listener with huge, metal riffing. As the record goes on, that patience and restraint starts to reveal itself more and more. On the sprawling, eight-minute epic, "When the Mountain Comes to Muhammad," the band allows the song to build slowly and easily, reigning the song in and allowing it to fold in on itself, growing slightly larger and larger without ever getting completely out of control. Geneva is an album that builds like an old building being demolished, starting out with an explosion and ending with the dust clearing to reveal a changed landscape that's ready for something new, as if the band is symbolically clearing away their old sound in favor of something new and exciting. If you weren't already on the Russian Circles bandwagon, this is the perfect opportunity to jump on....full text
DrownedinsoundThe fuzzed-up finger-tapped intro to ‘Malko’ fills you with anticipation. Something colossal is approaching. But in the essence of anticipation lies predictability, so when the track fails to burst at the seams, it’s a satisfying indication that Russian Circles are confident enough to avoid stuffing their songs with redundant riffs. On Geneva, they keep mouths watering, without listeners feeling sickeningly overfaced.
In dodging exaggeration, ‘Malko’ is indicative of Geneva’s strengths – but it must be said that in itself, the track is a little muddled when compared to the rest of the album. Each pattern fights for musical relevance, making for awkward clashes that disengage from the album’s pace. It loses its impact in a collection of tracks that are distinguished by their intricate self-control.
Opening track ‘Fathom’ gets the balance right. Bleak chords are stabbed out with an axe-like decisiveness, as the rhythm plods boldly onwards. It never draws blood, but keeps the blade firmly held up to the jugular, all the time allowing the expectation to build. Four minutes in, the expectation is too much, and the obvious progression could only be anti-climatic. So Russian Circles stand their ground, and in doing so, hold back just enough to deprive themselves of indulgence while justifying any decision to carry on listening....full text
NmeWords: overrated. Just ask this Chicago trio (now with Botch/These Arms Are Snakes’ Brian Cook as permanent bassist), who can evoke sunbursts and starlight without a single lyric. And while the domineering post-metal they’re known for colours this third record in granite tones, it’s the squalling ‘Melee’, ‘Malko’’s desperate violence and the queasy menace of ‘When The Mountain Comes To Muhammad’ that confirm RC are more than just noisy bastards. What’s more, combined with the breaths of quiet beauty – the tinges of regal brass on ‘Philos’, the way ‘Hexed All’ feels like a note written on the sky that says ‘everything’s OK, man’ – ‘Geneva’ blossoms into an evocative, inspiring album....full text
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