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Russian Circles Live In London

Chicago post-metallers make some serious noise at the Scala.

The Scala’s cloying fug and resiny surfaces feel intrinsically suited to the desert-forged eccentricities of Wovenhand’s shamanic leader, David Eugene Edwards.

His hour-long romp through the latter stages of the band’s discography, which unsurprisingly leans a lot upon last year’s Refractory Obdurate, reveals a musician at ease with both his stage and creative persona. Whether stripped down to his plaintive banjo or roaring with gain, Edwards is intense and spellbinding.

Russian Circles go some way to building on this groundswell of support, but lose out somewhat due to the departure of Wovenhand’s cultish audience. From there, they just can’t catch a break. Guitarist Mike Sullivan suffers a snapped string a few minutes into the set, and then a malicious power inverter continues to cut power to the stage, meaning the band are forced to pull up mid‑song over and over. Without any mics on the scene, the group are left to shrug helplessly at their increasingly restless audience.

For an act that rely so heavily on continuity, the interruptions are distracting at best and utterly devastating when placed in the context of the band’s typically all‑enveloping atmosphere.

Unwieldy equipment aside, Russian Circles know how to make some serious noise. The assertion that instrumental acts are overtly techy and introverted doesn’t stand up next to this band’s evocative live show. The macho riff of opener Deficit is so much bulkier in this setting, and bassist Brian Cook punctuates this by headbanging to within an inch of whiplash. Sullivan and Cook frame the stage, while drummer Dave Turncrantz continues to harness a percussive storm as the focal point of the show.

The setlist, while structured around Russian Circles’ latest release Memorial, gives a whistle‑stop tour of the band’s back catalogue. Latter‑day classics, such as the melancholic 1777 with its sloping drumbeat, sit as a counterpoint to the rollicking Death Rides A Horse, a song that sounds closer to the likes of And So I Watch You From Afar and Adebisi Shank than anything Russian Circles have written of late.

The band move fluently between these stylistic planes, jumping from bruising metallic guitar lines to pensive shoegazing with a versatility that signposts Russian Circles’ veteran status in an increasingly saturated scene.

It’s a dazzling showing but due to factors outside their control, tonight lacks the fluency that these post-metal masters demand.