Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
A Silver Mt. Zion - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything CD (album) cover


A Silver Mt. Zion


Post Rock/Math rock

3.85 | 41 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Dark Shrieks From the Insane Asylum

I'll admit, I've never really paid too much attention to A Silver Mt Zion in the past. I've always been distracted by their overtly pretentious band names and album titles, as if they were fulfilling the horrible post-rock cliché so perfectly, by walking in the wake of Godspeed as closely as possible. I remember hearing "This Is Our Punk-Rock," Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing, a while ago, and honestly not thinking much of it as a record. Although, to be honest, the problem with a lot of post-rock records is how they flow through one ear and out the other in a wave of "this is nice", and you can't really remember much about them. Although I distinctly remember, in relation to This Is Our Punk Rock, that I much preferred Mogwai's corresponding 2003 record, Happy Songs for Happy People, although the exact reasons why have completely escaped me.

So now we're in 2014 and both these bands have dropped new records within the first month. Only this time, I can say quite happily that A Silver Mt Zion have knocked Mogwai out of the park this time around, and it's not just by playing safe. Both these bands have changed their sound a bit since 2003, with Mogwai bringing in some pretty useless electronic bleeps and bloops, and ASMZ moving further away from post-rock, bringing vocals to be the most central element of their music. I don't remember much of This Is Our Punk Rock, but I most certainly remember the vocals weren't this prominent. In fact, it's hard to call Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything a post-rock record anymore. Or even an art rock record, as RYM has decided to add to their genres. The abundance of strings and 'rock instruments for non-rock purposes' technically gets them a post-rock vote by the dictionary definition, but this certainly lacks the crescendocore focus of most of the genre.

Firstly, we should note the title of this record. I mean, it's called Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything. That is bad ass. I normally think of post-rock titles to be equally pretentious and awesome, and this one definitely swings to the awesome side, at least a lot more than their previous titles. When trying to describe post-rock to the uneducated, I feel "We Pour Light On Everything" is just a perfect description, and all post-rock bands should adopt that, or something similar, as their catchphrase or slogan, because damn, I can most certainly hear the light all over this. On this particular record, A Silver Mt Zion are back to being Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra, leaving behind the Choir and Tra-La-La Band of previous incarnations, but as we should know, this makes little difference and the ever-changing name is most certainly just there for the air of pretention and 2deep4everyone-ness.

But I do unfortunately get to the point where I'm out of my depth in music writing. As much as I can respect A Silver Mt Zion on this album, I find a lot of it hard to enjoy and write about. But I'll start with a few things that are great. Firstly, the production must be praised. This is possibly the noisiest and most abrasive post-rock record I have heard in a long time, regularly bordering on shoegaze and drone in its noise, flying all around you and at you from all directions. Maybe it's just my taste at the moment, but I'm definitely starting to appreciate drone and minimalism in my rock music, even though I find drone and minimalism hard to enjoy on their own. The way the guitars are filtered and sucked through several layers of processing to end up in this tinny and distorted fuzz is just epic, and it really creates a tense and dark atmosphere.

Secondly, and I think the noisy production definitely enhances this, are the use of strings in this. Last year I was so incredibly impressed by the strings on Gris' 3rd album À l'âme enflammée, l'âme constellée..., which had the most fantastically arranged string parts during its interlude tracks, making the atmosphere of the dark and harsh music so brilliantly tense. And although Fuck Off Get Free is as far from depressive black metal as it could be, the same sort of effect is done here with the strings, playing the same sort of lines. Instead of the tremolo-picked guitars and shrieked vocals, the harsh and noisy guitars create the same dark atmosphere, and during sections like the fantastic midsection of "Austerity Blues", I can hear the same tension and brilliant layering of strings and noise and emotion that I felt on that Gris record.

But to be honest, if there's one thing I'm not feeling on this record, it's definitely the vocals. I've always been a supporter of vocals in post-rock, I feel the genre regularly dissolves into genericism and tired repetitiveness without them, and those bands that utilise them will always come off as more memorable in my ears. But the atonal and often off-key voice of Efrim Manuel Menuck regularly kills the mood in my opinion, particularly during the opening track and ones like "Take Away These Early Grave Blues". I understand why these sort of vocals are utilised, they match the harsh and abrasive nature of the guitars, but it honestly just feels like an insane person chanting on top of the music with no real aim to fit in with it. Yes, the music sounds a bit like an insane person too, but I still can't appreciate the way he simply shouts the same note over and over for minutes on end.

Many people have been complaining about the ending of this record, that it comes way too suddenly, and doesn't feel like a fitting ending. Of course, some pretentious people have gone as far as to say that the ending is a metaphor for a sudden death, that death can just happen without any warning. I'm not going to buy into that pretentious garbage, but I'm honestly just enjoying how much the final track, specifically the vocals, remind me of Manes and their Vilosophe album, a band who I have been missing for a long time and have suddenly returned just a week ago.

Honestly, this is the first record from any of the big post-rock bands that I've enjoyed, and the fact that this is only the second ASMZ record I have got into means I'll definitely be checking out their past, but I can't help but feel the reasons I enjoy this is because it isn't really a post-rock record at all. It's a noisy and abrasive chamber rock affair, with some completely delicious strings and some completely irritating vocals, so I guess it evens out in the end.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

Gallifrey | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this A SILVER MT. ZION review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives