“This new Russian Circles album is their best one yet,” I said last month for the fourth time in my life to the clerk at Sonic Boom Records. She stared back at me blankly as I gleefully clutched my new copy of Empros and ran home for its first spin. The album is awesome, of course. So when Russian Circles hit the road, I had to come home early from a long Thanksgiving weekend just to see them.

2011 November 26 – Seattle, WA – Neumos

Deafheaven

New San Francisco black-metallers Deafheaven took the stage, and after a harmonious intro that left me thinking I was going to fly into the post-rock clouds, the double bass started, and the nasally vocals commenced. The newly signed Deathwish Inc. band was one of the best first opening act surprises I’ve had in a long while as they brutally dragged the crowd for three sludge metal songs in the vein of Wolves In The Throne Room. The band was relentless, intense, and face-melting faces — all requirements of solid metal acts.

Crypts

Up next was new electro-bizarreness band Crypts. The three-piece features the wild antics of Steve Snere (vocalist of These Arms Are Snakes and Kill Sadie) and then a couple of other guys huddled behind laptops and various electronic equipment. Considering the overtly heavy edge of the bands before and after Crypts, it was a tough sell to try and get into their music. The bass rattled heavily, so much you could feel it in your organs, and the beats were hard, with odd synth melodies thrown in. Snere was what he always was — an absolute whirlwind of limbs, endlessly gyrating the air, flung every which way across the stage. It was, like all of his performances, an impressive display of energy. But it was hard to pique the interest of the mostly metal-minded crowd. Crypts don’t createt head-banging music. And despite the band’s best efforts, heavy distorted beats didn’t create the same reaction as heavy guitar riffs.

Russian Circles

Russian Circles keep getting better and better with every release. Despite touring in support for Empros, the band played a varied set, taking songs from each of their four releases. The most impressive thing about the band is live; they are a ven diagram of total noise. Guitarist Mike Sullivan mans his loop pedals like a master, effortlessly re-creating his sprawling riffs. Drummer Dave Turncrantz could be one of the more underrated drummers in the metal world. His knack for jazz-influenced drum fills and command of wailing on the crash cymbals really plow the band through. Bassist Brian Cook could be the lynchpin of the whole thing, though. The ex-These Arms Are Snakes/Botch bassist commands the low end of the spectrum with an unmatched authority. On stage, he is a bass-driven demon devouring the souls of treble clefs. The thing is, though, no one of the three really shines above and beyond the rest. So as the band slayed its way through an hour-plus long set, the final goal of destroying at least one eardrum of everyone in attendance was easily done. Russian Circles are on a clear route to ending up as one of the premiere instrumental acts in the world.

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