On their previous album, Geneva, Russian Circles had a quiet conversation on the nature of patience in music with a collection of songs that quietly and calmly built themselves up with layers of melody. On Empros, however, the band has escalated from conversation to argument, combining the precision of their last album with the metal fury of some of their earlier work. The album opener, “309,” gets to work almost immediately, unleashing a suffocating wall of snarling guitars that seems to embody the stark, unforgiving cold of the winters in their native Chicago before eventually dissolving into the uplifting second track, “Mlàdek.” This kind of musical drift continues throughout the album, with each song giving way to the next, allowing the disc to unfold in movements rather than tracks. Perhaps to match the more aggressive musical aesthetic of Empros, Russian Circles have also adopted a more aggressive production style, taking on a rawer and more open sound that allows the mid-range of the guitars to scrape and growl their way out of the speakers, and gives the drums an overdriven openness that makes every song sound like it’s happening in some kind of abandoned factory. As an album, Empros shows Russian Circles bringing together everything they’ve done before into one complete package, compiling the lessons of albums past into one singular vision, and bringing it all together for a new vision of their future.
AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney