REVIEW: Russian Circles’ “Memorial”

 photo RussianCirclesM_cover_zps251d8812.jpg What I love about Russian Circles is how they’re able to completely let themselves go, escape their own human boundaries and just play ruthlessly as if they don’t give a fuck, but they do. Memorial (Sargent House) is an album that is so packed with powerful guitar and bass riffs, you’ll want to modify your arm so you can play your own riffs at any given times. They’re playing hard rock, heavy metal, hints of progressive rock and metal, doing some cool things with tempos and moods, and all of this done without the aid of a vocalist so everything you feel is similar to the good parts you might find on a progressive rock album. It’s everything in between, but taken to new levels, or at least new in terms of this being a new Russian Circles album. A song like “Deficit” may sound somewhat delicate at first but once it falls off the cliff, the listener is on a slow motion ride down to the floor until you’re crushed by the greatness. The drone that begins “1777” sounds close to the segue way between Pink Floyd’s “The Narrow Way” parts 2 and 3, and when the drums come in and the guitar zooms through the echo chamber, it sounds passionate, victorious, or merely the first step towards a very long journey in the cold. In fact, some of this music reminded me of a cool feeling, and I wondered if I was associating it with the cover photo or just because it sounded like a mental struggle. “1777” takes almost 7 1/2 minutes to get its message across and once it reaches its destination, the rest of the album almost comes off as nice anecdotes for each passing, yet the interpretation of the anectodes, the deciphering, makes this a very interesting and moving listen. Some of it may sound like a choir or monks chanting in a choir, other times there are classical passages that sound right with heavy guitar and bass, but as the album moves along, you feel yourself moving along with the struggle before you learn that the struggle is merely life moving along in its own way. What the “memorial” signifies, I don’t know. Does it mean we’re dealing with life’s struggle before we eventually end up at a memorial we can never see ourselves, or are we just congratulating those who are able to make it through this existence in one piece? These are the things that came to mind as I’m listening to this music, as if the sound is a wall that becomes an unspoken barrier with the capabilities of translating a language we all understand. We’re all getting there, but how we get there is up to us. We move forward, as Russian Circles always do, and will continue to do for many more years to come.

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