See full show review with additional photos by Jess Rechsteiner at New Noise Magazine here
I have seen Russian Circles at least three times in the past, however never at a show with only two bands playing one of which being the up-and-coming super group Mutoid Man. Around two or so years ago Nick Cageao had told me that he was working on a new project with Ben Koller (Converge) and Stephen Brodsky (Cave In). He showed me some demos of the soon to be Mutoid Man and based on their demos I could tell immediately that this band would be special.
Mutoid Man played for about forty-five minutes, and refused to spare even the slightest moment. Knowing that each of these individuals are seasoned musicians and watching it be on display in their stage presence was my personal favorite part of watching their set. Brodsky had an intense energy on the stage that poured out through his bodily movements, facial expressions, and guitar playing. Every time I watch Ben Koller play drums, he reminds me of a fierce animal with an un-quenched appetite. His hits are both precise and hard. Nick Cageao, the bassist of Mutoid Man, was holding up the low end of things with a classic Black Sabbath-Iron Maiden type influence. My favorite part about Mutoid Man is that their style ranges anywhere from groove, to metal, to outer space. I am very eager to see where this band goes next. To my understanding they are currently working on their next full length to be released via Sargent House.
As Mutoid Man was wrapping up and leaving the stage the crowd was filled with excitement for Russian Circles to do what they do best. As I mentioned earlier, this was not the first time I had seen Russian Circles, and I knew going into it that I most likely would not be disappointed.
The room was dark, and there was a quiet drone coming from guitarist Mike Sullivan’s amp setting the mood before they came out to play. We were all eagerly wondering what songs they would play while we had those we were hoping to hear in our minds. They played a set filled with diversity between albums, which was more than anyone could have asked for. At least one song from each of their five records was presented. Everything about them was flawless. Some of my favorites were their older songs off the album Enter. The most outstanding track they performed in my eyes was a song titled “1777” off of their latest album, Memorial. There was something about that song that captured me into a trance that I hadn’t felt at a show in a long time. Russian Circles opened my eyes and ears to some things about their style that I never noticed before. Being up front the whole time and fully attentive, I was able to pick apart their riffs, and hear what influenced them. They have gone from being a really good post-metal band, to a band that explores both the heavy and ambient parts of their songs with riffs influenced by other genres, such as black metal. Every time I watch them play, I experience various feelings of depression, beauty, and darkness. Russian Circles also proved yet again just how good they were as players. While they each have their expertise individually, together they were like an unstoppable force of pleasantry to the human ear. Sullivan showed just how easy it looks to play guitar and made it look effortless. Drummer, Dave Turncrantz used his unique hard style of drumming to lead the band into their gaze. Brian Cook, who is always interesting to watch, played like an inhuman machine. Everything looked mechanical and effortless on his end, which is very inspiring to any fellow musician.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Russian Circles never disappoints with their live performance, and I’m not sure they ever will.