Russian Circles / Torche
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RUSSIAN CIRCLES (us / Sargent House)
Russian Circles named their 2016 album Guidance in reference to the uncertainty of the future. It was a fitting title for the times, with the album coming out a few months before America’s tumultuous presidential election, but it was intended more as a reference to the band’s own absence of a blueprint as they navigated their second decade as a band than as a social commentary. If there were questions as to how to move forward as a musical unit or individual doubts as to how to continue toiling as artists in the underground, the three years of relentless touring on the album only served to reinforce the Sisyphean struggle of artists. With their latest album Blood Year, Russian Circles forsake the sonic crossroads of divergent musical paths found on albums like Guidance and Memorial to offer up the most direct and forceful collection of songs in their discography.
TORCHE (us/ Relapse Records)
“People are always trying to figure out which compartment we fit into. They wanna put us on a shelf. But in a world of Sabbaths, we get to be Van Halen.” That’s Torche guitarist and producer Jon Nuñez talking about his band’s uneasy relationship with categorization. Over the last 15 years, Torche—led by the core trio of Nuñez, guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks and drummer Rick Smith—have often been saddled with one-dimensional niche terms like doom, sludge or stoner rock, but none of them really apply. “That shit is tiresome,” he says. “When people ask me what kind of music we play, I just say, ‘Loud rock n’ roll.’” Which is a good way to describe Torche’s fifth and latest album, Admission. From the rumbling cannonade of opener “From Here” and chunky bomb-string detonator “What Was” to the staccato siren song “Reminder” and glistening thunder pop of the title track, it’s a record that manages to be hi-powered, dynamic and melodic—all at the same time. “To me, it’s a real record with peaks and valleys and emotional ups and downs,” Nuñez offers. “Musically, the intensity doesn’t stay in one lane.