Russian Circles show why they’re the best at what they do

Russian Circles w/ Chelsea Wolfe
November 9 at KB18


When Russian Circles rolled into Copenhagen on Saturday, it was as a band that is at the absolute top of their game. 


Having just released their excellent fifth album, Memorial, two weeks ago, the Chicago-based instrumentalists are currently firing on all cylinders. 


Their show Saturday was their second visit to Kødbyen’s KB18 in just over 18 months. Not only touring in support of new material, the band was also accompanied by a much different opening act than the last time around. While their April 2012 gig saw them supported by black metal screamers Deafheaven, on Saturday they were joined by singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe, whose unique mix of folk, goth and drone has earned her a following in the male-dominated metal world. 


READ MORE: Russian Circles: Hard to define them, harder to ignore them


After a strong set from Wolfe, Russian Circles opened their performance with the thundering ‘309’, one of three tracks played from 2011’s Empros, followed by an inspired run through one of the band’s best songs, ‘Harper Lewis’. 


New compositions ‘1777’ and ‘Deficit’ fit seamlessly with the band’s earlier material, highlighting one of the band’s absolute strengths: while all five of their albums are cohesive works that beg to be played from start to finish, their songs still lose nothing when played on their own or in new sequences. 


The evening’s set proved to be a display of prowess from drummer Dave Turncrantz, bassist Brian Cook and guitarist Mike Sullivan. Turncrantz, particularly, was an awe-inspiring beast behind the kit. Although KB18 doesn’t provide the best sight lines, the drummer’s shadow was reflected on the low ceiling, giving an other-worldly view of his speed and precision. 


Cook’s booming and churning bass laid the groundwork for Sullivan to dance upon with leads that varied from precise finger work to riffs chunky enough to be the envy of traditional metal bands. 


Russian Circles takes listeners on a musical journey that floats seamlessly between moments of peaceful, beautiful atmospherics and whiplash-inducing chugging, and Saturday night’s show was no exception. While ‘Geneva’ had heads banging so hard it looked like some of them might fly right off, the slower open to ‘Schipol’ provided a dreamy respite before it all started up again. 


After a short pause following the main set, Wolfe came back onstage to join the band for ‘Memorial’, only the second song in the Russian Circles catalogue to feature vocals. She managed to blend perfectly with the band, complimenting their sound but never overshadowing it. 


When Russian Circles closed with ‘Youngblood’, one of their hardest-charging songs and this reviewer’s personal favourite, one was left with the clear impression that they had just witnessed masters at their work. 

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