Essential New Music: Russian Circles’ “Guidance”


For more than a decade, Chicago instrumental metal trio Russian Circles have set themselves apart from the crowded pack of metal bands that attempted to fuse their loud, primal tendencies with the emotional intensity of Neurosis and Godspeed You! Black Emperor by sounding, well, more loud, primal and emotionally intense than any of their so-called post-metal peers.

On their sixth studio album, Russian Circles continue on the same path they started down on 2013’s Memorial, easily their most expansive record, matching serene pieces like “Asa” with the molten fury of “Afrika” and lead single “Vorel.” Kurt Ballou of Converge, who moonlights as one of contemporary metal’s most accomplished producers, imbues the record with a riveting weight unheard on any of the band’s previous work. The result is the most dynamic LP of Russian Circles’ career, a riveting album that catches one of America’s finest metal bands at the peak of its powers.

—Möhammad Choudhery