Sunday 22 September 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Russian Circles, "Blood Year"

By: Eeli Helim

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 02/08/19
Label: Sargent House

Blood Year” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Hunter Moon
2. Arluck
3. Milano
4. Kohokia
5. Ghost on High
6. Sinaia
7. Quartered

The Review:

 "Blood Year" is Russian Circles' seventh album and fourth released by Sargent House. Three years after the instrumental post-metal-ish acts' last album "Guidance", the trio returns in a stronger and more vivid form, matching and even surpassing all the expectations one could've possibly set for the new album.

Whenever bringing up the subject of contemporary, metal-rooted instrumental music, it's practically impossible to survive through the discussion without mentioning Russian Circles. The band's influence on the scene is indisputable, having released a strong and powerful set of albums with unbroken quality standards within the past fifteen years. "Blood Year" provokes haunting imagery of empty streets and post-apocalyptic ruins, much like their earlier albums, but with a more dismal and moving elegance.

After the intro track "Hunter Moon" built entirely on ambient guitars, a rhythmical drum beat and bass lead set off the second track "Arluck", also giving the tone for the rest of the album. Built on simple movements and easily comprehensible patterns, the band demonstrates their stronger output right from the beginning, lifting the track amongst the prime picks of "Blood Year". The atmosphere is eerie, even more so than it has been before. This continues on the following pair "Milano" and "Kohokia". The flow is consistent and flawless, and the tracks are structured to appear both interesting and sensible throughout. I also appreciate the fact that they experiment and play around with tones very little; the main weight is on good and clever compositions and organic, natural emotions caused by just that.

"Ghost on High" is an intermission piece similar to the first track, leading seamlessly into "Sinaia", the longest, most varied, and bleakest of the bunch. At this point it's noteworthy to mention that the whole album has its own distinct feel and characteristics that separate it from Russian Circles' past albums. While the melancholic aspects are there, the sadness never gets overwhelming, not on this record at least. "Sinaia" is a genuine post-metal track that despite it's own moments, doesn't leave as permanent mark to your memory as the other tracks. The course is still kept steady, and the final track is guaranteed to floor you completely. "Quartered" seems to partly abandon the emotional side and fill the spot it left with more violent and pummeling drive, bringing the album to end completely somewhere else in contrast to where it began. The track also excels to mirror its name, inducing sensations of having your limbs torn apart for one reason or the other.

The overall feeling is what sets this album well apart from the others, relying on something else rather than your run-of-the-mill aesthetics. It's hard to say if "Blood Year" is Russian Circles' best album to date, but it sure as hell is worth all the repeats and time it takes to listen to it. Reverting back to what I wrote earlier, the level of quality is still higher than most and stays unshaken.

”Blood Year” is available HERE

Band info: facebook