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Russian Circles / Earthless [Live]

Russian Circles / Earthless [Live]

Camden Underworld, London, April 13th 2010

Review 1312 Views
Last Edited by: Chris MUG5 Maguire April 29th, 2010.

Have you ever been to a gig where the name of one of the bands on the bill keeps ringing a bell in your head and you can’t remember why? I knew I’d heard the name of the first act on tonight before somewhere but just couldn’t place it, then when they started I realised those bells I had heard were warning bells. There’s nothing particularly bad about Earthless, in fact musically they’re frankly remarkable, but then so are a lot of professional piccolo players but I have no desire to listen to them either.

Earthless played a forty minute long psyched out unflinching and unapologetic guitar solo; the kind of solo you’d expect to hear on a Black Sabbath b-side. A lot of people in the sold out venue were clearly loving every widdly widdly moment, and I swear I saw at least a handful of bearded blokes (who wouldn’t look out of place in a Hawkwind tribute act) wearing what could only be described as ‘sex faces’.

Russian Circles on the other hand were a total different proposition – they are also monstrously talented but meter out their extravagance in a more subtle and measured way. Whereas Earthless are a meandering acid casualty, Russian Circles are a stroke of your hair from a loved one, with the occasional knife in the back of the ribs from a past lover.

Instrumental bands seem ten a penny these days but few can perform with such dynamic majesty as Russian Circles. The set started with a few minutes of gentle attenuated noises (that on record I had assumed were strings) then the drummer worked everyone up by pounding out some surprisingly danceable rhythms. And then the world ended – Russian Circles were far heavier live than I expected. But the grinding, crunching, pounding of the guitars was never over used once during the long set, instead brutality was used as a glorious juxtaposition to the tidal melodies that make up the bulk of their output.

A lot of the material played came from the latest album "Geneva", but the previous two albums were frequently plundered for their juice and gold. Considering the sedate (but far from dull) nature of a lot of the set I was astounded to hear reports of energetic moshing down at the front of the room where those younger than I gathered to glance up at their idols.

If you’re a fan of musicians playing at or near the peak of their ability whilst still respecting proper song writing then you should really check out any of the three albums Russian Circles have bestowed upon the world.

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