Back with their fifth album, American post-rock metallers Russian Circles have a bigger crunch than they’ve ever had before – songs like Deficit surge with sharp, heavy, beautiful riffing and shotgun drum attack. But there are the quiet, introspective moments that build to the big burst – and sometimes these two different sets of moments happen in the one song. On 1777 you have everything that you like about Jakob and other instrumental post-rock ensembles of that ilk – but there’s a slow-build towards a ferocity that so many of the other bands – your Mogwais, Jakobs, Godspeeds et al – just don’t have.
That’s because of drummer Dave Turncrantz. Oh, Brian Cook’s fluid throb of bass and the shards of sound guitarist Mike Sullivan are crucial too – but where there’s a tendency in this type of music to keep it sludgy or for the drummer to sit on the beat – offering big, proud arcs and a definite groove but just creating space and sitting back – Turncrantz is windmilling around the hi-hat, he’s pumping that bass drum, he’s creatively filling small spaces but still leaving passages for the other musicians to work in and around. He is – as you might expect from a drummer – the propulsive element here.
There are some moods on this album that Russian Circles haven’t quite ever made it to before – like Cheyenne, which is closer to something Mike Oldfield might have dreamed up than to any of the more overt metal and post-rock influences.
Then there’s the short, sharp, brutal pummelling of Burial – a song that feels like it wants Mike Patton to scream over it, or Ethel which is Buckethead or Lyle Workman-styled guitar stuff to segue into the metal-lurch of Lebaron, almost early Tool.
The closer is a shoegazer throwback, with murmured reverb-drenched vocals as an added texture.
So all at once it is everything Russian Circles has kinda done before, but it’s fresh and new-seeming at the same time. That boat just being pushed out a little further. And shit it’s good. Really, really good.