Ghost on High
On their seventh album, the instrumental trio Russian Circles strips back the effects and frills to focus on the basics: heavy riffs, heavy percussion, heavy, proggy melodies. The Chicago band’s albums are often so immersive that tracks feel conjoined, as though the record is a single extended piece. The same can’t really be said for Blood Year, their second album recorded by Converge guitarist and lauded metal producer Kurt Ballou. It’s no less cohesive than any of their other records, but each song here stands on its own in a way that feels more dynamic, varied, and, ultimately, powerful. “Arluck” is intense and progressive, a stark contrast to the slow, scene-setting opening track “Hunter Moon.” “Milano” takes a different approach to heaviness, finding power in concrete-thick riffs and sheer density, rather than speed. And between the sludgy seven-minute epics “Kohokia” and “Sinaia,” “Ghost on High” is a short, ominous, and (relatively) gentle tension-breaker.