Russian Circles have always fascinated me as they were one of the first bands in the post metal movement that dominates the scene these days. In their earlier days it felt like the band was more known for the high powered elements in their sound and the raw emotion that was communicated through riveting instrumental rock. Guidance seems to be a step in a new direction. Yes, the emotion is there, as is the general Russian Circles idiom and there even are some more energetic tracks, but as a whole Russian Circles seem to want to explore a more subdued side of their sound. The album is full of potent moments, showcasing the power of their production, using electronics to grow the sound and reminding us exactly why they are among the greatest. And yes, there are moments full of swagger; after all, the crown is, and has been, theirs for years now, to the point that it sometimes feels like every band in Brooklyn is trying to be these guys. Despite the fact that Russian Circles seem willing to go beyond, expand on their traditional sound, and prove that they are more than just a one trick pony.
As with any Russian Circles album, the appeal lies in the sheer strength of the songwriting. Sure there are a few powerful riffs, but like I said, for whatever reason Guidance feels a bit more introspective than your traditional Russian Circles release. You get lost in the grooves, absorbing the punishing crush of the bottom end, but also reflecting on the more introverted elements found here. Russian Circles are all about balance found in the music, and the spiraling riffs that define their music demonstrate that time and time again. It's nice though that the band takes the time to back off, to allow you to revel in what they have created and also to realize that there are a ton of different directions that a band like this can go. It's important to have space in music and this record is a perfect example as to why. Russian Circles never try to be more than they are, but what they are is truly triumphant. Everything is perfectly calibrated, set up such that we can see every moving part and fall in love with the band no matter where we are in the record. It's indicative of the greatness of Russian Circles, and six albums into their career it's kind of what we've come to expect.
As I said though, it's not business as usual here. The band couldn't afford that. They can't just put out another Russian Circles record – people care too much about this band and they are far too valuable on a purely spiritual level for anyone to forget them. What I love about Russian Circles is how you can just vibe out and get lost in the music. You get a chance to just feel your body relax and your internal chemistry is soothed. The band continues to impress and if their sound isn't for you then too bad, I'm sure you can find something else to dig. It's hard to listen to Russian Circles and not be at peace. There is a lot to pick apart here and the final product is wonderfully polished. Maybe they have lost a bit of the spontaneity of their younger days but that's because the band has become something much greater: a refined gleaming chrome machine of the sort that most bands only dream about becoming. Russian Circles have changed metal forever and it's up to you decide whether this is for better or for worse.