Russian Circles - Guidance album review

Chicago trio Russian Circles’ post-metal trip treads surprisingly lightly.

Russian Circles Guidance artwork

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With barely a few seconds of silence throughout the entire record, Russian Circles’ sixth full-length invokes a trance-like, hypnotic state with its shimmering guitars interlocking with pummelling, rumbling drums and Mastodon-sized riffage. As you’d expect from the instrumental Chicago trio, nothing is rushed, every nuance is honed, every note is deliberate and the juxtaposing senses of optimism and dread are not coincidental. Guidance is almost the antithesis to previous darker album Memorial, with no obvious electronic elements and a much lighter, dreamlike tone, albeit more metallic – possibly down to producer Kurt Ballou (Converge).

Those looking for a more sinister soundscape will have their appetite satiated, but it’s among more explorative, glistening progressive metal. Flexing their muscle on Mota, the stabbing basslines and ploughing guitars conjure images of tropical storms, preceded by the serene and meditative Asa. Emotionally draining and satisfying in equal measure, the experiments in heaviness bloat and shrink with the swooshing and frenetic guitars that power the music forward. Littered with whirrs, warps and wails, this is a multicoloured, multilayered journey.

Luke Morton joined Metal Hammer as Online Editor in 2014, having previously worked as News Editor at popular (but now sadly defunct) alternative lifestyle magazine, Front. As well as helming the Metal Hammer website for the four years that followed, Luke also helped relaunch the Metal Hammer podcast in early 2018, producing, scripting and presenting the relaunched show during its early days. He also wrote regular features for the magazine, including a 2018 cover feature for his very favourite band in the world, Slipknot, discussing their turbulent 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone.