Released: October 20th, 2009
Reviewed by Evelyn Miska
It has barely been a year since Russian Circles released Station, so it is a bit of an unexpected treat to have another full-length album from the band so soon. Similar to Station, Geneva is an album that won’t be an easy listen for a lot of people, but that certainly doesn’t mean one should pass it up. However, this is an album that one needs to take the time to digest and enjoy, it will not come quickly. Nonetheless, for those that do put the time in and are patient, Geneva has a great deal to offer and is well worth the effort.
“Fathom” has a slow intro that will sound somewhat reminiscent of an orchestra tuning-up before a performance, but creepier and far darker. It doesn’t take too long before that comparison is obliterated completely with vigorous drumming and some wonderfully eerie guitar-work. Like many Russian Circles songs, the song is relatively long for our modern-day, flea-like attention-spans, but the slow and gradual build is worth hanging around for. One of the slight exceptions to this approach is the album’s title-track which delves immediately into that dark world created on the first song, in fact, it could almost seem like the two are really halves of one giant song.
“Melee” lightens the mood somewhat and the airy feel of the beginning of the seven-minute song is a bit of a respite after “Fathom” and “Geneva.” This isn’t to say that the song is trivial, however, and it builds into one of the most beautiful and interesting songs on the entire album. “Hexed All” runs a tight second, however, and included what appear to be some vaguely classical influences in the melody. The shortest song of the album, it leaves listeners simultaneously wanting more and knowing that Russian Circles ended the track at precisely the right point.
At over ten minutes, “Philos” wins for the longest track on the album, but the instrumental-only approach manages to still tell it’s own story. Again, creating a somewhat creepy and somewhat classical song, “Philos” is not to be taken lightly and is a feat few bands could hope to master. The use of strings could have been cliched, but instead adds exactly the right tone and feel to the song. This is a perfect example that modern music can have gorgeous melodies, complex layers and be more than synthetically produced drivel.
Russian Circles isn’t for the faint of heart in many ways, and actually will take an attention-span to listen to. For those that might want something easily digested, this is a band that isn’t for you. For those out there willing to work a little to get great music into their system, this is definitely a band to check out.