Russian Circles is without a doubt one of the most innovative and interesting bands in the independent rock/metal scene today. With its fourth release, Empros, the Chicago band has not only picked up where it left off with 2009’s stanout Geneva, but also has found new ways to intrigue listeners while sticking with the familiar sounds/themes that have contributed to the band’s success. Being an instrumental trio makes Russian Circles somewhat of an underdog in heavy-music circles—often known for cocky, aggressive front men—but the band demands high praise for holding its ground on the outskirts of the scene. “Schipol” shows the talents of the vocals-free band: atmospheric guitar sounds fill the landscape for more than three and a half minutes until cymbal swells and powerful single-note bass thuds suddenly appear, bringing with them a rush of optimism. The song then fades into “Atackla,” which continues on with a minimalist approach until Brian Cook’s standout bass assault marches the track out of the ambient fog and onto sonic glory: intense and steady drum rolls leading to heavy guitar riffs that abruptly halt, leaving a mess of screechy feedback and looped synth sounds in its dust.