Russian Circles

Enter

[3/5] Since the early ’90s, approximately 90 million instrumental-rock bands have filled the underground with difficult time signatures, finger-tapped guitar lines and big dynamic shifts, and none of them has yet eclipsed the colossal figure of Don Caballero. And while Chicago trio Russian Circles aren’t there yet, either, they’re closing in fast. The band’s debut album, Enter, packs the requisite elements--the finger-tapping and distorted swells of “Death Rides A Horse”; the abrupt meter changes of “New Macabre”--but it also flows with a sort of vocal-less narrative grace, weaving its own imaginary storyline in the manner of Japan’s Mono, or at least in ways most rock bands usually require a singer to achieve. Of course, with the shortest song clocking in at five minutes, and with the spaces between the (quite awesome) riffs mostly given to the sort of delicate, tentative guitar figures that went out of vogue with Slint’s Spiderland, it’d be nice to see a slimmer wheat-to-chaff ratio on the Circles’ next album. But at least they kill it live.
(FLAMESHOVEL) Aaron Burgess