Russian Circles, Helms Alee, KEN Mode | Metro | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Russian Circles, Helms Alee, KEN Mode 18+ Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Sun., March 16, 8 p.m. 2014
Price: $18
When you’re critiquing the catalog of band you revere, there comes a point when you’re just splitting hairs. I’m definitely at that point with local postrock/metal stalwarts Russian Circles. I’m not going to not like a Russian Circles album, because I know how a Russian Circles album will mostly sound. Their most recent, last year’s Memorial (Sargent House), is a thunderous blaze, full of expertly manipulated swells of sound and intricately constructed towers of guitar tapping. They’ve gotten through five albums as an instrumental band—though Chelsea Wolfe lends her gothy voice to Memorial’s title track—because within the confines of that style they’ve grown and mutated in an incalculable number of directions, like a colony left to its own devices in a petri dish. Similar to its predecessor, 2011’s top-notch Empros, Memorial shifts from triumphant, nearly orchestral sheets of layered guitar—sometimes complemented by actual cello and violin—to grim, crushing head-banger catnip. “Deficit,” the album’s first proper song, is heavier than anything I’ve ever heard from the trio—during the thick chug-chug that fills its final four minutes, guitarist Mike Sullivan and bassist Brian Cook wring every last ounce of bile from their instruments. It’s wrathful and damn near beautiful, a dichotomy that Russian Circles are navigating better with age. —Kevin Warwick Helms Alee and KEN Mode open.

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