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A Silver Mt. Zion - Horses In The Sky CD (album) cover

HORSES IN THE SKY

A Silver Mt. Zion

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.87 | 73 ratings

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Walkscore
3 stars Critical Anti-War Folk-Tinged Post-Rock.

Silver Mt Zion (SMZ) have always been political, as have Godspeed You Black Emperor. However, while previous SMZ albums drew more on ethereal, classical and avant-garde musical styles, here they veer in the direction of a more traditional American (in both senses, i.e. both continental and US) anti-war folk styles. The pieces are more structured, and use more traditional chord changes, and indeed, evoke (if just a touch) the ghosts of Woody Guthrie and Phil Ochs in terms of their use of clever lyrical phrases and repeated sing-along choruses. The opening piece here, 'God Bless Our Dead Marines', is simply amazing, and the best on the album (and among the very best ever SMZ songs). It has a very clear three-part structure musically, while the lyrics provide some of the most direct and hard-hitting anti-war criticism of SMZ's entire catalogue. Here, Efrim has written lyrics that do the job of the various radio spots, street chatter and sound effects found on early Godspeed albums, and they do it very well. Killer track (literally). The song lasts almost 12 minutes, but the live version (you can find them on youtube) lasts upwards of 17 minutes. Really excellent music and lyrics, if perhaps necessarily US-centric (Canada, the home of SMZ, does not have a marine corps). The rest of the album doesn't quite live up to this fantastic opener though. The next strongest tunes follow right after the opener. The title track, 'Horses in the Sky', is to my mind the second-best track on the album, again (for me) harkening back to some of the classic American anti-war folk troubadours, and 'Mountains Made of Steam' is the third-best track. These are, after many years of listens now, usually the only ones I listen to, as the last three songs are just not as musical. 'Hang on to each other' is similar in style and format to 'Horses', but not quite as clever or emotive, so it feels a bit whiney, as does 'Ring them bells'. However, I think it is wonderful that SMZ took it upon themselves to stretch out beyond their usual comfort zone into more a folky vernacular, as the exercise produced three really great songs. Especially, 'God Bless Our Dead Marines' remains for me among the top five songs ever written by Efrim and SMZ/GYBE - it sends chills up my spine every time I listen to it. Given the whole album is mixed, I give this 7.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

Walkscore | 3/5 |

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