Receiving the Evcharist is our weekly feature where we pair choice albums with our favorite libations. Drink from the cup of heresy. This week’s offering: Russian Circles’ Blood Year and Strand Brewing Company’s Batch 100 Stout.
The Metal: Russian Circles’ Blood Year
What can you say about a band on their 7th album in thirteen years of existing? When that band is Chicago’s Russian Circles and that album is Blood Year, it turns out you can say it whips ass. Russian Circles’ sound has done a good job of evolving from their complex, math-rock oriented beginnings into something more cinematic and more emotionally driven while still retaining its trademark heaviness. I personally have felt a trend towards a lighter side of metal from their material circa Memorial onwards, but Blood Year feels like a return to the kind of darkness explored on Station. The overall mood of the album is more tense and there is a lot more focus on the chugging riffs of Mike Sullivan and the growling bass of Brian Cook. There are even plenty of “Harper Lewis”-esque moments of slow build towards a sonic explosion present here, one of the song formulae that Russian Circles does so very well. But the band’s newer incorporation of brighter melodies break through the gloom of Blood Year like sunbeams piercing through rain clouds, in a way that balances the album and shows the trio synthesizing their past and present sounds gracefully. Every time Russian Circles releases a new album, it has become my favorite Russian Circles album. I’m very pleased to say that Blood Year is my favorite Russian Circles album.
The Booze: Strand Brewing Company’s Batch 100 Stout
For today’s offering, I wanted to go with something suitably dark for a suitably dark album. Enter Strand Brewing Company once again for a bottle of something special: the Batch 100 Export Stout. Brewed in the same way as the brewery’s 100th batch of beer, that is, by filling the mash tun with as much grain as it can hold, which results in a stout with a huge depth of flavor. Huge chocolate and malt notes reign supreme here, but the finish is drier than one would expect, which helps keep something with this much character from being cloying. I had half expected this to be more of a dessert beer, but this would work just as well in a brunch capacity. As with our last Strand Brewing beer, this is a simple, classic beer executed perfectly.
Cheers, and be good to each other,