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Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! CD (album) cover


Godspeed You! Black Emperor


Post Rock/Math rock

3.72 | 193 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
4 stars Released silently while on tour, I didn't actually know this album was out until I was in the lobby waiting to see the band live. Needless to say this album was huge news for fans, GY!BE's first release in 10 years. What to make of this new release?

The album consists of two long songs, and two short ones. The long ones are redone versions of songs the band has played live before, while the shorter ones are more ambient, soundscape pieces...very droning and minimalist.

This makes the album difficult for me to review, as it feels more like two songs and filler, rather than four actual songs, and while I have no issue with "Their Helicopters Sing" and "Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable" and would even say I enjoy them, they fail to "do much" for me as part of the album. While the long songs, "Mladic" and "We Drift Like Worried Fire" are both pretty brilliant.

"Mladic" runs the gambit of everything we've come to expect from GY!BE: Mind scratching samples, lengthy, slowly building, ascending and descending songs with lots of power and fury. There are the sounds of what I can only describe as guitars crying, pounding, hypnotic drums and a superb Middle Eastern melody that much of the middle of the song builds around, and some absolutely frantic parts. The song moves into a powerful droning section, just to build again to another climax and finishes with the sounds of protesters, clanging pots and pans.

It actually is quite beautiful in its sound and harmony, especially punctuated with car horns and people chattering. It's beautiful in sound and meaning, people getting together to fight for their beliefs. As always, GY!BE is making a political statement, but one that requires research. I being unfamiliar with Quebecois politics...had to look up "Le Plan Nord" and "La Loi 78" which are colorfully protested against in the album's liner notes. I think understand these things make the album even more meaningful, but I don't want to digress so basically these are two bills that are being criticized for limiting the rights of protesting, and for opening up large areas of protected land to mining. I do believe knowing this facts and keeping them in mind add depth to the album.

"We Drift Like Worried Fire" is again pretty charted waters for GY!BE though as always, superbly done and features a wonderful bass heavy, powerful drumming finale.

Final thoughts on this album? It is a fairly standard GY!BE album. This is not a bad thing, standard godspeed is better than most other bands and the same is true here. The soundscape songs are pretty good, though don't feel quite like they add to the album, and while the lengthy songs are superb they are, apparently, not wholly original. Still, this is great stuff and this album was a bit heavier and a good bit noisier than typical GY!BE, with a little more use of drone as well. As always it is both overtly political while not explaining it to you. It fact it may be their most political album yet: the back cover features a poem involving "plague of policemen" and lost dreams. Inside is a picture of a dead bird, (peace?) and an empty drive through sign, perhaps signifying the loss of "old days" and a snapshot of a crumbling economy. One can speculate for ages, all I know for sure is this is a very solid album that may not break any new ground, but is superbly done and very welcomed. Let's hope there will be new material in the future.

Three and a Half Stars BUMP: FOUR STARS

JJLehto | 4/5 |


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