Top 20 of 2013, Number 7: Russian Circles – Memorial

Russian Circles

Released: October       Genre: Rock / Instrumental       Metacritic Rating: 88%

Over the years there’ve been very few non-electronic instrumental albums that have held my attention. The main three that spring to mind are This Will Destroy You’s S/T, The Collective by Scale The Summit and Russian Circles’ 2011 releases Empros, which I picked up on vinyl earlier in the year. I can now add Memorial to that list. It may not quite as epic as its predecessor, but there’s something incredibly natural about Memorial, at both its softest and heaviest moments. It’s an album that peaks and plateaus continuously, whilst finding a very comfortable balance between the two contrasting scales. Ditching the bands normally lengthy tracks in favour of shorter selections made the band much more accessible to listeners whilst still maintaining the craft and talent that had hooked an audience previously. What’s more, Memorial expands with each listen as new layers and touches are discovered, which I’m still noticing two months on. The band never seems to go too far out of their way to impress, with tracks like ‘Cheyenne’ drifting beautifully, creating a gorgeous soundscape. The heavier moments of the epic ‘Deficit’ and ‘Burial’ are technical and savage, and the album seems to communicate its own emotions without words, which I’ve always considered remarkable. Chelsea Wolfe perfectly suits the muddy darkness of the closing title track and overall Memorial is stunning, showing that a record doesn’t necessarily need lyrics to make it thoroughly engrossing.

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