The peerless, Chicago rooted three-piece assume positions upon the Limelight 2’s angular stage tonight amid waves of thick smoke, visually foreshadowing the highly textured, atmospheric nature of the audio adventure to come this evening.
With newcomers to the set such as Hunter Moon, Milano and the phenomenally memorable, recognizable pattern of Arluck played in quick succession, Russian Circles are not an act to pause for pomp nor respite.
With no apparent setlist placed upon the stage, this detail only further supports the sense that the evening’s set has a truly organic flow to it.
With musical passages seemingly going very much where the band believes they should take us, pieces appear to segue into one another, remarkable given the familiar, yet considerably more conceptually complex approach taken on the bands latest offering, Blood Year. Although there is little contrast with the empirically riff laden post-metal of Russian Circle’s past, the entire set explores the eerie, the apocalyptic, wholly other worldly mythos of the groups expansive repertoire.
With tried, tested and revered compositions such as Harper Lewis making the cut, the delayed, anthemic and utterly extra-terrestrial guitar playing of Mike Sullivan dominates the room.
Almost a unit upon themselves, the rhythmic section of bassist Brian Cook and drummer Dave Turncrantz provide a phenomenally tight, tribal-esque syncopation to a significant proportion of the bands performance.
Sweeping guitar passages fade in like a rolling mist, repeated with such precision, enough to allow those in attendance the opportunity to appreciate the rich layering carefully executed by Sullivan’s application of looping pedals and effects. Such passages eventually building seamlessly into juicy, pulverising riffing.
The entire performance tonight benefits greatly from a truly remarkable mix, even in such an awkwardly shaped, small setting. Indeed, the act’s clearly committed audio engineer can be seen bobbing his own head, in time with all in the audience during every piece for the duration.
In all, Russian Circle’s offering of gorgeous, atmospheric, occasionally menacing, yet thought-provoking instrumentalism is one any serious connoisseur of quality music should witness. With their path leading to and culminating with a second-to-headline spot at ArcTangent festival in Bristol, tonight feels like a chance to witness a spectacle in rock that is sure to long continue, and grow it’s audience the world over.
Support tonight was provided by Ireland’s own No Spill Blood. An exciting, thoroughly dystopian electronic metal prospect. They perform with vigour; tracks that feel they could sit on Vangelis’ Blade Runner score, albeit featuring blood curdling screaming and unrelenting polyrhythmic drumming.
Indeed the audience’s attention is captured immediately, the band refusing to release it’s hold. Such monumental sound, rarely produced by just three individuals, but together No Spill Blood have crafted something visceral and unique.
Catch Russian Circles across the UK at these remaining shows this August:
AUG 12 Glasgow, SCO @ G2
AUG 13 Manchester, UK @ Gorilla
AUG 14 London, UK @ Earth
AUG 16 Bristol, UK @ ArcTanGent Festival
They then return stateside to play the following this Fall:
SEP 11 Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
SEP 12 Minneapolis, MN @ Cedar Cultural Center
SEP 14 Bozeman, MT @ Rialto Bozeman
SEP 16 Seattle, WA @ Neumos
SEP 17 Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
SEP 19 San Francisco, CA @ August Hall
SEP 20 Ventura, CA @ Discovery Ventura
SEP 21 Los Angeles, CA @ The Teragram Ballroom
SEP 23 Mesa, AZ @ The Nile
SEP 24 Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf
SEP 25 Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
SEP 28 Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall *OCT 18 Grand Rapids, MI @ The Pyramid Scheme
OCT 19 Detroit, MI @ El Club
OCT 20 Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
OCT 21 Montreal, QC @ Theatre Fairmount
OCT 23 Portsmouth, NH @ 3S ArtSpace
OCT 24 Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
OCT 26 Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw
OCT 27 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
OCT 29 Washington, DC @ Union Stage
OCT 30 Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry
NOV 01 Durham, NC @ Motorco Music Hall
NOV 02 Charlotte, NC @ Neighborhood Theatre
NOV 03 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
NOV 04 New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jack’s
NOV 06 Houston, TX @ The Secret Group
NOV 08 Austin, TX @ Levitation
NOV 09 Dallas, TX @ Deep Ellum Art Company
NOV 11 St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall
Review & Photography © Michael Lockheart 2019