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Russian Circles

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Album Review

Traditionally, a memorial is a place for reflection; a locus where we're able to go not only to contemplate the events of the past, but to allow ourselves the opportunity to carry the emotional weight that accompanies them. With their fifth album, the aptly titled Memorial, Chicago instrumentalists Russian Circles craft an album that fully, and mostly wordlessly, explores this idea of a specific, controlled space where one is supposed to let their feelings run wild. Continuing to explore the expansive and metallic sound of the brilliant Empros, the band's music seems to really capture this duality, offering up a series of tightly constructed tracks that seem to surge with catharsis and sadness, creating a musical tempest in a teapot. Without vocals, this kind of pathos can be hard to evoke without a direct way to connect with the listener, but as they so often do, Russian Circles rise above the norm to imbue their instrumental musings with the kind of emotional hooks that dig themselves into the listener quickly and effectively. Not looking to be slaves to their rather excellent formula, however, Memorial finds the band making an interesting change by way of a guest appearance from Chelsea Wolfe on the album's titular closing track. After an album of instrumentals that weaved between chilling heaviness and haunting quiet, the singer's ethereal voice feels even more delicate, as if it were a wisp of smoke that could be waved away by even the slightest movement. This provides Memorial with a beautiful denouement that makes for an album that's not only satisfying, but one of the band's strongest works to date.

Customer Reviews

Worthwhile but . . .

. . . Russian Circles has not equalled the brilliance of their first three albums with either Empros or Memorial. Enter, Station, and Geneva were simply brilliant releases. Empros was a step backwards, and Memorial may represent a half step forward from Empros. Purchase if you're a fan of R.C. or the genre generally, but it's nowhere near a top album. Plus it's only 37 minutes long.


This album sounds good and these are talented people but full potential is NOT being achieved here.They make a giant sound for a trio(thank you Verellen Amplifiers!) but I would love to here the bassist and drummer try and go in some unexpected directions. Surprise me bee-otches! I look forward to hearing what happens next. 3 stars due to excessive fan worship.

Oh yeah!!!!!

The track "Deficit" absolutely blows me away!!! Their sound must have grown an extra set of balls on this new album if this track is any indication. This is a must buy, go get it, now!


Formed: 2004 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The post-rock/experimental trio Russian Circles feature Mike Sullivan (guitar), Colin DeKuiper (bass), and Dave Turncrantz (drums). Prior to Russian Circles, Sullivan and DeKuiper were members of the eclectic instrumental act Dakota/Dakota, while Turncrantz produced an emo-punk ruckus with Riddle of Steel. The instrumental group formed in 2005 in Chicago, and together they create a complex clamor of sprawling guitars, propulsive drumming, and heavy basslines. That same year, Russian Circles self-released...
Full Bio
Memorial, Russian Circles
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Customer Ratings


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