Russian Circles - Enter
Record Label: Flameshovel
Release Date: May 16, 2006
It’s been about 5 months since Russian Circles (RC) released their debut album, Enter. In this span of time, they have seemed to be gaining quite a bit of ground. Touring extensively with some well respected bands (Mono, Pelican, mewithoutYou, The Appleseed Cast, and Minus the Bear), R.C have been quickly gaining a pretty impressive fan base. Coupled with the help of the internet, they are on the verge of becoming one of the bigger bands in the instrumental rock scene.
But does all this mean Enter deserves the attention?
From the outset, Russian Circles differentiate themselves from most instrumental music thanks to their non-orthodox approach to the genre. Where most bands in the genre prefer structured, carefully paced builds and arrangements, Russian Circles choose to make their music much more spastic. This of course creates an overall product that is constantly entertaining, especially (it would seem) in a live setting. With this approach to a genre people often refer to as dull, boring, or “music that puts them to sleep,” it’s easy to see how many people are attracted to Russian Circles.
Yet, appearances can be very deceiving. Russian Circles’ main selling point is also their biggest downfall. While Carpe, Death Rides a Horse, Enter are songs that prove RC can make music that differs greatly from an often overplayed formula, the constantly changing tempos and instrumentation leave a lot to be desired. Russian Circles never really accomplish any unity in their songs, instead creating a series of 5 to 9 minute onslaughts that carry no structure or continuation. Sure its fun to listen to, but to anyone who is familiar with the instrumental genre it lacks depth, especially on the latter half of the CD where Russian Circles' formula falls flat. Complicating the problem, the times when Russian Circles do succeed amidst chaos are downplayed due to their dissapointing brevity. The climaxes of songs are often not extended enough to warrant repeat listens. Instead, I often found myself rewinding or fast forwarding through songs just to find a certain riff or breakdown. Instrumental music should allow the listener to appreciate the journey to the central focus of the song, a place where Russian Circles fails.
Don’t get me wrong, what Russian Circles has crafted in Enter is an impressive debut that will surely attract many new fans to the genre. But behind the glamour and constantly shifting music, is a CD that lacks any real depth. Hopefully, the next time around, Russian Circles will be just a little bit “boring” in order to achieve a more coherent piece of music.
I generally agree with this review. RC really comes across to me as post-rock lite. They are a good gateway band, but you should probably get through the gateway pretty quick and move onto the more established bands of the genre.