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

ALLELUJAH! DON'T BEND! ASCEND!

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.68 | 145 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TCat
Prog Reviewer
4 stars After several years on hiatus, GY!BE returned with this long awaited album in 2012, and the fans went wild. GY!BE amassed many fans during their hiatus, people were growing to love their music, their brand of post rock, and many bands were being influenced by it also, along with many imitators. Even though this was their first album in many years however, it is not one that I would recommend for first timers or newcomers to their music.

This time around, the music is more dense, and based on drones more than previously, and also more of improvised music than structured, not that any of this is a bad thing, it's just less accessible (If any of it is accessible at all that is) than other albums. This album consists of 4 tracks, 2 of which are very long at about 20 minutes each, and 2 shorter tracks. The two long tracks are reworkings of songs that have been played in concert settings for many years. The shorter tracks are more drone-like.

The vinyl edition was released as two records, one a 12 inch which contained the longer tracks, and a 7 inch which contains the shorter drones. On the sleeve of the 12 inch, there are instructions as to what order to play these tracks in, since it is not in a conventional order as on other vinyl formats.

The album opens with "Mladic" at just under 20 minutes. This one starts out based on a drone and background music mostly formed from one chord. Things build off of this with fast rhythms and improvisation, and there really isn't any chord changes at all until you get past the 6 minute mark. Structure starts to become more apparent as a chord progression starts and the music continues to build. All of a sudden you will notice a theme (melody) that sounds middle eastern and pretty soon all of the instruments are playing that theme as development continues to the point that things actually get cinematic. Suddenly, the tension is broken, things stay intense for a while anyway, but things start to calm down, until the end when the track is led out by a middle eastern percussion pattern.

"Their Helicopters Sing" comes next at over 6 minutes. This entire track is built on a drone and layers are built on top of this. This is led by strings and other non-traditional rock instruments, also accompanied by guitars.

The third track is "We Drift Like Worried Fire", and as the title suggests, this starts out with a floating sort of atmosphere. There is a pattern that forms a theme, which eventually becomes more marked as percussion joins in as a regular beat at around 4 minutes. A violin soon starts playing a counter melody is played on top of everything. The real build starts at 6 minutes as churning guitars, synth and bass start to take over. Tension is released at 8 1/2 minutes as guitars trade off making sounds, tension starts to build again. This track is more of a Scandanavian feel as it gets to this point, the sound of guitars and instruments playing from the mountaintops is the feeling you get. Soon, a lone violin starts to cry and plead and other instruments join and answer back. Percussion comes back in the form of cymbals and a beating drum in the form a dirge, with strings pulsating and other sounds moving around creating an ominous atmosphere. The music builds off of this feeling now, and is the most exciting part of the album. Tempo starts to pick up as rhythm increases. The music suddenly settles into a pattern with a very nice thematic element present here. This suddenly becomes very positive feeling, a very welcome change in the music. This all stops at 17 minutes, and you get lone strings playing far away and they slowly increase in volume, fast paced rhythm joins in and the build here is really quick as that thematic feel starts again. This track is the most structured feeling part of this album and it works amazingly well with the rest of the more improvised feeling of the rest of the album.

"Strung Like Lights..." is the last track at 6 1/2 minutes. Again, this is another drone style track, but the drone is made with harmonies between various instruments with long sustained notes. If you listen closely, you can detect a warbling texture in the drone as pitch tends to change in the sustained notes. Discord enters as tortured guitars begin to be layered in.

This is an excellent album, but it took me a few more listens to begin to really appreciate it. I do love this album, just like all of their other works. To me, it's not the album I would present or recommend as a starting point, that belongs to their debut album, "Lift Your Skinny Fists..." or even the newer album "Asunder". This one is more advanced listening, like "Yanqui U.X.O.". However, this is still an excellent album, and definitely was not a letdown. I knew it was great the first time I heard it, but as I said before, it took me more listens to really appreciate it, but even so, I still knew at that time that it was excellent. This is also the reason why it took me longer to review this one, because I knew once I become more familiar with it, I would like it even more.

TCat | 4/5 |

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