If one thing is certain in this world it is Russian Circles is probably one of the most underrated bands of our time. Instrumental music is not what most would exactly call a mainstream love affair, you will be hard pressed to find a radio station that plays any kind of instrumental music. If anything, the guys have proven that you don’t need to be played on the radio to be successful, bands like Boris or Melvins would also tell you that.
Empros is the fourth soon to be released album by Russian Circles and no doubt their best. This time around the Russian Circle guys have gone for a more dark, but cohesive sound that equals the most heaviest and interesting material that they have ever written which sounds like it focuses on making the drums and bass sound more prominent.
The album starts off with the explosive track 309 which begins sounding like music from a horror film movie trailer soon after exploding into a song complete with a heavily distorted groovy-as-fuck bass line and some of the best drum-work by drummer Dave Turncrantz (or any drummer) you will ever hear. The drums in this track are so loud, when I saw them live recently this song almost sent me deaf.
One of the first things you will notice about Empros (if you’re a seasoned Russian Circles fan) is that more emphasis has been placed on the bass and drums. The drum-work of Russian Circles has always been the strong driving point of every single track they have ever written, and one of the reasons many people like the band. The drum-work on Empros will impress the fuck out of drummers and non-drummers alike, I’m starting to think that Dave is actually a drum robot and not a human at all because some of the drumming on this album sounds too good to be true.
While all of their previous albums have placed emphasis on the drums and bass, the drums are super loud on Empros and the bass guitar appears to be more distorted and louder as well. The loudness is especially evident in tracks 309 and Batu.
One of the best tracks on the album and my favourite would definitely have to be Attackla. It starts off with a slow guitar riff that slowly builds, and at roughly 1:45 in the track Dave comes in with a catchy drum beat which kind of has a marching feel to it and no it’s not a snare roll. The bass guitar handled by Brian Cook comes in late, roughly 2:20 with so much groove giving the song the feeling of being overly upbeat. By Russian Circle’s standards this is a simple song, but it’s also one of the best.
The track Schipol absolutely scared the shit out of me. The song begins with a beautiful guitar riff repeated over beautifully manipulated guitar feedback tones for over three minutes before you are unexpectedly scared into oblivion by an almost unexpected crashing of guitars and cymbals before diverting back to the eery guitar tone feedback sound that Russian Circles are well known for.
If you’re wanting to know which tracks on Empros are the heaviest look no further than the second last track Batu which some will sadly overlook. Don’t let its sometimes soft moments fool you, this song is harder than a quarry full of rocks (excuse my bad analogy) and the hardest track on the album complete with Pink Floyd-esque effects.
The final track on the album Praise Be Man will take everybody by surprise due to the fact THERE IS SINGING IN IT. Although singing in a song composed by an instrumental band isn’t a new thing, in all of the previous 3 albums released by Russian Circles there has never been singing. To be honest I wasn’t a fan of this song the first couple of listens, but after the third or fourth listen I realised this is an awesome song to end the album on. Soft, composed and beautiful it encompasses everything Empros is about it’s a perfect end to the chaos that is Empros.
Empros is absolutely perfect in every way. Beautifully written, composed, recorded and mixed. This is by far the greatest album Russian Circles have released so far in their career, and undoubtedly the best album to be released by an instrumental band in a long time.
Rating: 10 out of 10.