Russian Circles (2012)

Chicago, IL

Confronted with the riff-laden, feedback-soaked instrumental metal of Chicago’s Russian Circles, you could be forgiven for imagining there are more than three members: these dudes know how to fill a room with sound.

Drawing inspiration from obvious post-rock forbears like Tortoise and Sigur Ros, as well as less obvious influences such as hip-hop, classic rock, Sonic Youth and Fugazi, their music glistens, dissonates and assonates, ranging from crushingly heavy jams to blissful atmospherics, sometimes within the same song.

While their fourth LP, Empros, was one of last year’s best-reviewed albums, drawing high praise from underground and mainstream press alike, this constantly touring band’s legendary live show even eclipses its epic records. Hear that pick-slide? That’s the sound of a band entering its glory years.