Russian Circles

Frontman? Frontman?! This proggy instrumental-metal outfit doesn't need no stinking frontman. On Geneva, their third full-length album, the Chicago-based trio proves fully capable of creating scintillating song narratives simply by shredding their asses off. From guitarist Mike Sullivan's ominous, beast-summoning strikes on "Fathom" to the empty-desert bleakness of Brian Cook's bass distortion on "Hexed All" to the hell-ride title track, which finds drummer Dave Turncrantz galloping over his kit like a team of enraged horses, the music is densely orchestrated, excitingly layered, and utterly cinematic. Fancifully speaking, it would be perfect soundtrack music for a woefully over-budgeted sci-fi opera like Dune. With its rising, rousing strings and clickety-clack percussion, "Melee" almost had me reaching for an imaginary weirding-module, eager to waste some of the Emperor's prized Sardaukar shock troops while screaming "Muad'Dib, bitches!" In other words, it's the kind of wide-open music that empowers flights of imagination and enflames your inner dork. A stinking frontman would only get in the way.


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