2009-12-15 13:31:29 Posted By: Bill - Archives
The Chicago-based instrumental trio Russian Circles has just released “Geneva,” a worthy follow-up to their outstanding 2008 album, “Station.”
More often than not, instrumental rock music suffers from a pretentiousness that is the result of musicians who, above all else, want to show off their technical skill, leaving behind any emotion or feeling in the music. This is not the case with Russian Circles. Sure, these guys can play, but the seven songs on “Geneva” display a heart and soul rarely found in instrumental rock.
“Geneva” features the heavy sound that Russian Circles are known for but they’ve dialed back some of the short, straightforward metal sounds found on “Station.” This does not diminish the power of their sound but rather enhances it as they use anticipation and release rather than a brief moment of aggression to satisfy the listener.
Among the outstanding tracks on “Geneva” is the title track, which immediately establishes itself as the front-runner for the next Jason Bourne movie soundtrack for any assassin-chasing scenes. Here bassist Brian Cook channels Lord Voldemort in delivering an evil-tinged bassline while drummer Dave Turncrantz makes his cymbal striking sound like sheet metal rending in a hurricane. All the while Russian Circles keeps the music in tight form, never getting out of control.
When the Mountain Comes to Muhammad features a 1950s-era radio broadcast of a nuclear test played underneath an eerie and ominous soundtrack that has dramatic shifts, but keeps the mood consistent throughout.
Melee, with its quiet, darker atmosphere, is an instant Russian Circles classic while Philos, with an unquiet beauty and bizarre fadeout, ends the album perfectly.
The only flaw with “Geneva” is that sometimes the band just doesn’t know when to quit. For instance, the afore-mentioned Melee is 5 minutes and 30 seconds of sheer beauty but the song is actually 7 minutes and 39 seconds long. The last two minutes just seems like added filler. This isn’t so bad since Russian Circles’ filler is better than most instrumental bands’ front line offerings.