Russian Circles return with not only their fourth and heaviest album to date, but also with Empros they're poised to take the crown as innovators reinvigorating the staid trappings of genre. Empros picks up where the anthemic riffs and melodies of 2009's Geneva left off and injects evermore slithering rhythms amid skull-crushing heft with all the visceral intensity of Godflesh, Swans and Neurosis. Put simply, Empros is Russian Circles' Master of Reality: a radical revision of both heavy and melody that is monolithic in its clarity and perfection. Or, like a lone surviving wooly beast emerging from a brutal winter's frost, Empros is the sound of a band shaking the ages from its shoulders with all the brutal force of a behemoth awakened.
The album opens with an imposing mechanical drone leading into funereal guitar notes that are abruptly interrupted by a propulsive drum beat as the proceedings of "309" erupt into something akin to a neo-industrial revision of Celtic Frost. The song lunges through nearly 9 minutes of masterful rhythmic shifts and brutal guitar warfare with such assertive grace it sounds as though the band is throwing down a gauntlet defying all challengers. "Mladek" kicks off with the soaring notes of Sullivan's signature hammer-on guitar arpeggios as Cook's volume-swelling bass notes surge like bubbling molten lava. Turncrantz's innovative rephrasing of the drum pattern elevates the song as it slinks from part to part, guided by the syncopated chatter traded between chiming guitar notes and churning bass. Elsewhere, there are beautiful moments of melodic respite, helping to underscore the album's majestic strength. And, there may even be a few surprises awaiting within the album's six tracks. There are riffs, yes -- many of them. But, with Empros the entire band seems to be the embodiment of the riff itself.
Empros is Russian Circles' first full-length to be released worldwide exclusively via Sargent House, the band's longtime management company and record label that had previously released only the vinyl editions of its three prior albums. It is available everywhere on LP, CD and Download on October 25th, 2011.