There's only one way for a band to silence their doubters, and that is by going all out to make their best album yet. Some have gone down recklessly experimental routes after a less-than-ideal reception to their previous record, and this is something which has as much chance of paying off as it does backfiring spectacularly. It could be just me, but I didn't see this band getting the praise they deserved last time out; 2011's Empros was underrated and overlooked, much more of a slow-burner than previous efforts. The Chicago post-metal trio went from there to creating their most intense - and quite possibly their best - album yet. As anyone who has seen Mike Sullivan, Dave Turncrantz and Brian Cook - collectively known as Russian Circles - live will tell you, they are a punishing force on stage, and have done well in their efforts to make this translate to their records thus far, but it is with Memorial that they have created their definitive statement. The album clocks in at just under 37 minutes, but makes every second count.

The trio have always been fond of contrast and ambitious song structures, and their mastery of their respective instruments remains a key facet of their sound (there are many bands who create music like this, but few accomplish it with this much flair), but the new record, their 5th, contains some of the most extreme examples of dynamic experimentation yet. 'Deficit' follows the scene-setting opener 'Memoriam' with the most relentless piece the band have yet composed, a bruising wall of sound that is high on tension and low on respite. It gets things going in dramatic style, before being immediately offset by the busy, technical rhythms and hyper-melodic splendour of '1777', whose cascading guitars and epic scope would have any other band using it as the album centrepiece. 'Cheyenne', meanwhile, is hazy and dreamlike, yet never ceases to give the impression that there's something ominous beneath the surface, ready to rear its head and strike.

That expected payoff comes in the form of the coruscating 16th-notes and lurching drums that colour the suitably downbeat 'Burial'. Russian Circles' latest has been talked up as being darker than previous material, and it certainly delivers on that promise. Penultimate track 'Lebanon' is among the most aggressive material in the band's catalogue to date, its shifting time signatures and fuzz-laden sound ensuring that things remain unpredictable throughout. The album flows naturally from one song to the next, circling back in on itself for the Chelsea Wolfe-featuring title track. While Russian Circles have experimented with vocals before, Wolfe's voice is a natural fit for the sombre closer. Memorial may be the band's bleakest-sounding record yet, but they've made their home in the darkness and produced an album that takes an accomplished sound to new heights.