Post-rock is one of those misbegotten terms that serves more to obfuscate than elucidate. As an instrumental three-piece from Chicago playing expansive, unclichéd, unobvious rock/metal, Russian Circles can’t really hope to escape such labeling. But categories aside, what makes RC one of the most exciting bands around—apart from their power to cook up a musical maelstrom—is the sense of “positive blindness” that not being lumbered with a singer gives their music. On numbers like the relentlessly building “When the Mountain Comes to Muhammed” and the towering title track, you get a sense of three musicians probing and exploring the music from deep within, rather than aiming for a distant spot on the horizon. On the frenetic, pulsating “Malko,” they just sound so tight band-wise that you imagine them sharing bathwater and sleeping in the same bed.
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