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Russian Circles

Mike Sullivan (guitar) and Colin DeKuiper (bass) of Dakota Dakota formed Russian Circles in 2004 with drummer Dave Turncrantz, formerly of the St. Louis band Riddle of Steel. Sullivan and Turncrantz were later joined by bassist Brian Cook of Botch and These Arms are Snakes to form their current line up. Epitonic's Parker Langvardt reviewed their fourth release, Empros.

Russian Circle's debut album Enter begins with eerie, chiming guitar and droning bass, but the instant Turncrantz slams on his kit, it is evident there is something heavier to come. The first full-band blast launches the band into lurching metal, which continues to progress into a smooth, dynamically flowing song, and the rest of the album unfolds. Sullivan's use of loop pedals is virtuosic, and Turncrantz provides grooving beats that range from simple orchestral-style percussion, to fat hip-hop beats, to full-force metal.

Sullivan and Turncrantz connected with bassist Brian Cook via Matt Bayles, who produced their second album, Station in Seattle. It is even more cohesive than their first album, with strong ideas on both the light, melodic side and the heavy side. Cook adds his excellent tone, which ranges from e-bowed drones to grinding distortion.

Russian Circles took it a step further on their third album Geneva, blending the two ends of their styles into riffs that encompassed both. There was some orchestral instrumentation on "When the Mountain Comes To Muhammad," including trumpet and trombone by the album's recording engineer, Greg Norman of Steve Albini's Electric Audio in Chicago, where it was recorded. "When the Mountain Comes to Muhammad" also featured Grammy-nominated violinist Susan Voelz, cellist Allison Chesley, and piano by the album's producer, Brandon Curtis, brother of School of Seven Bells guitarist Benjamin Curtis.