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GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR

Post Rock/Math rock • Canada


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Godspeed You! Black Emperor biography
Founded in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1994

GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR! is an experimental nine-piece that specializes in semi-avant-garde instrumental music of haunting beauty. They've released five discs of music, with a grand total of eleven pieces of music, so you know they can write some extended ideas. Formed in 1995, GYBE! consists of Roger Tellier-Craig (guitar), Norsola Johnson (cello), Efrim Menuck (guitar), Mauro Pezzente (bass), David Bryant (guitar), Thierry Amar (bass), Sophie Trudeau (violin), Aidan Girt (percussion), and Bruce Cawdron (percussion). GYBE!'s music should probably be described as long, dark, moody, and brilliant. Their sound was once compared to TANGERINE DREAM, except that GYBE! uses no keyboards. They paint a similar sonic texture to TANGERINE DREAM, but they do it using cello, violin, upright bass, and three guitars, rather than synths. In fact, GYBE! is very organic, often bringing in spoken word samples, as well as glockenspiel.

GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR!'s best album is arguably the double-disc "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven". It consists of four 20 minutes pieces. "Yanqui U.X.O." is also an excellent album, having two 20 minute tracks and a 30 minute track. GYBE!'s other albums are "f#a#infinity" and "Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada."

GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR! is highly recommended for prog fans as Kraut Rock, epic-length experimental, or anyone looking for something a little different to sink their ears into.

BrainRock Ben, USA



See also:
- A Silver Mt. Zion
- Fly Pan Am
- Set Fire To Flames
- Valley Of The Giants
- Exhaust
- HṚṢṬA

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Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven [Vinyl]Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven [Vinyl]
Constellation 2010
$18.65
$28.48 (used)
Luciferian TowersLuciferian Towers
Constellation 2017
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Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada [Vinyl]Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada [Vinyl]
Constellation 2010
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F# A# (Infinity) [Vinyl]F# A# (Infinity) [Vinyl]
Constellation 2010
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'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
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Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Luciferian Towers (180g) Vinyl LPGodspeed You! Black Emperor: Luciferian Towers (180g) Vinyl LP
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GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.07 | 384 ratings
F# A# ∞
1997
4.12 | 524 ratings
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
2000
3.97 | 293 ratings
Yanqui U.X.O.
2002
3.68 | 145 ratings
Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
2012
3.75 | 91 ratings
Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
2015
3.96 | 83 ratings
Luciferian Towers
2017

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.40 | 5 ratings
All Lights Fucked On The Hairy Amp Drooling
1994
3.20 | 5 ratings
Split (ft. Amazezine)
1998
4.41 | 184 ratings
Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada E.P.
1999
3.25 | 4 ratings
Tiny Silver Hammers
2004

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.68 | 145 ratings

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Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by 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.

 Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada E.P. by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
4.41 | 184 ratings

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Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada E.P.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by raigor

4 stars "Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada" is the first EP release from the Canadian experimental musical collective GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR. It was released in 1999 on vinyl by the Montreal-based record label Constellation Records and on CD by the Chicago-based Kranky Records.

The disc, clocking in at approximately 29 minutes, features two long instrumental compositions: 11-minute "Moya" and 18-minute "BBF3". The former is dedicated to the band's founding member Mike Moya who left the ensemble in 2008. In fact, this is a sort of re-working "Symphony No. 3" by Henryk Gorecki, a Polish composer of contemporary classical music (that's why it is sometimes mentioned in the concert setlists as "Gorecki"). The latter refers to the vox pop interviewee going by the name of "Blaise Bailey Finnegan III" whose eccentric ramblings form the core of the song. Finnegan recites a poem which he claims to have written himself. But in fact, the poem is mostly composed of lyrics from the song "Virus" by Iron Maiden that were written by their then-vocalist Blaze Bayley. Both tracks are just superb and can be referred as "classics" of GY!BE from their first period.

Interesting facts for collectors: The cardboard album case opens in the opposite direction of a conventional CD case; this is due to the Hebrew text being read from right to left. The front of the album contains Hebrew characters, in transliterated form, "Tohu VaVohu" (Formless and Empty). This phrase is from both Genesis 1:2 and Jeremiah 4:23, the former to describe the Earth before God separated light from dark and the latter to describe the Earth after the Lord's Day.

 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.75 | 91 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars By the time the second decade of the 21st century had begun, hardcore fans of GODSPEED! YOU BLACK EMPEROR probably were under the impression that the band had released their best output and moved on to the myriad other projects they had been creating and when the band finally emerged with "Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! ten years after "Yanqui U.X.O," fans may have been tempted to believe the band was finally getting a second wind and finding new inspiration however in reality that album was really just reworked from unreleased material that was churned out during the prolific era around the turn of the millennium. It wasn't until three years later in 2015 with the release of their fifth album ASUNDER, SWEET AND OTHER DISTRESS that GYBE! came up with a newly created album of original material. True that the members had been busy with their offshoot solo projects ranging from Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Fly Pan Am and Esmerine just to name a few so it's not like the creative forces disappeared into the ethers but rather were dissipated by outside influences. It's always great for a totally unique sounding band like GYBE! to reunite and pick up where they left off and that's exactly what they do on ASUNDER, SWEET AND OTHER DISTRESS.

Like previous albums, GYBE! continues the post-rock compositional style of creating long sprawling tracks (in this case four) that slowly unfurl out in patience testing doses and ultimately connect to create a single long album listening experience. ASUNDER also happens to be the shortest album the band had recorded to date as well and clocked in at a more normal time limit of just over forty minutes which IMHO suits the band quite well as the music is just as apocalyptic and intense as ever. "Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light!'" starts things off and has a distinct heavy guitar riff which distinguishes it from the more chamber rock drone type compositions of the past, but have no fear. It is simply one instrument amongst many to add an extra melodic element to the sprawling musical ant march across the great divide. The opening track begins with a heavy looped guitar riff but becomes incrementally softer and diminishes its heft as it slowly dissolves into the droning middle tracks "Lambs' Breath" and "Asunder, Sweet" which for all intents and purposes conspire to give the feel of a single behemoth track before the heavier rock sound make a reprise on the closing "Piss Crowns Are Trebled."

While it's true that at this stage there is no more wow factor with this type of apocalyptic post-rock soundtrack music as it is a good twenty years old at this point, it never fails to amaze me how good this type of music can be and despite the minimalism and test of endurance as the sounds slowly ratchet one way or another like a complex carbon-based molecule chain, GYBE! show why they are the masters of emotional manipulation as if they connected our consciousness to a transistor knob where they can simply tweak our reactions with the slightest bends of notes or the infinitely long suspension of others. As with all their music, there is a huge debt owed to the minimalism of musique concrète, impressinalism and progressive electronica from the past, but GYBE! manage to take the best features of those disparate genres and take them to a sort of post-apocalyptic world where a world like Blade Runner churns on after the utter collapse of reality as we know it.

Absolutely no one sounds like GYBE! including all the splinter bands that have emerged in their absence, so this is a style of sophisticated post-rock that i personally can't get enough of. While ASUNDER, SWEET AND OTHER DISTRESS hasn't seemed to have gotten the love that its predecessors have, there is no reason that it shouldn't as it delivers all the GYBE! goods in a fully mature fashion that adds enough twists and turns to ensure that they are not simply dog paddling in the same musical arenas time and time again. This album is excellent and an intense and satisfying return of one of the masters of horrific grandiosity and a sign that the band is still alive and kicking despite the incessant flow of its member's outside projects.

 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.96 | 83 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by thesameoldfears

5 stars This is the album I'd been waiting for. A little backstory, shortly after the release of the last album Asunder, Sweet I saw on Youtube that they had been playing an even newer long song that really blew me away. Then I saw the band play it live in 205 and said to drummer Timothy Herzog after the show "that new song is an instant classic." That song turned out to be titled Anthem For No State, and it was worth the wait to finally hear it released.

Godspeed! didn't pull any punches with this one. There are two shorter "drone" songs, but they each keep building up rather than staying constant, so you definitely don't get bored. The long songs are really what stand out though. Bosses Hang is a great example of what you can do with just a single melody developed effectively. As the song builds, you get a series of interlocking guitars playing off each other, but the main melody comes back at the peak. Definitely feels triumphant.

Anthem For No State is one of my favorite songs right now. The intro with violin and soft guitar is one of the most beautiful passages this band has done. But as to be expected, the song builds over 14 minutes into a giant bang of a conclusion. The last 3 minutes are an absolute triumph, right up there with King Crimson's Starless as most epic ways to close an album. Very loud playing, but also great emotion and melody.

 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.96 | 83 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Though intellectually I feel that I should like everything that GY!BE does, I do not. I know I should be impressed with the musicianship, with the technical and theoretical mastery on display in their compositions, I am not. When I listen to GY!BE I feel as if everything is a slowly shifting muddle of sonic mud. It seems as if every wave in the sonic spectrum, 20 to 20,000 is full, that the band leaves no space left for anchoring contrast. And for those of you who know me and my musical tastes, I like space. It has only taken me ten years, with this release, to discover why it is such a struggle for me to listen to and review GY!BE music. I am sorry that more simplistic, less accomplished compositions rate higher on my lists of enjoyable Post Rock, but that's the way it's going to have to be. I am just not wired to like this music. The more I read, the more I feel guilty for this for obviously these guys know what they're doing and work hard to accomplish their lofty goals.

1. "Undoing a Luciferian Towers" (7:47) opens with a pulsing, vibrating weave that reminds me of a more sophisticated version of a SWANS song ("The Seer Returns"). With additional instruments (winds) joining in and adding to the mix, and a few key/chord shifts, the sound becomes cacophonous and almost overwhelming to me while maintaining that SWANS-like feel to the end. (8/10) 2. "Bosses Hanging (Pt. I, II, & III)" (14:42) strummed bass, tremoloed other stringed notes, precede the melody-presenting distorted electric guitar--until the 2:09 mark when drums and other instruments join (viola/violin) to present us with a kind of military funeral march. Kind of cool! At 3:13 more electrified stringed instruments (mostly guitars) join in in the higher registers, bringing a kind of plaintive urgency to the music. But this is only temporary, as at 4:22 everything drops away leaving a single guitar to play its two note arpeggio ad infinitum while a fast tremolo violin note accompanies. Gradually a plethora of other stringed instruments join in--all bringing with them their own two-note arpeggio to form quite an interesting TERRY RILEY-minimalist weave. When drums rejoin mid-seventh minute, the pace and complexity of the weave begins to build to a minor frenzy--kind of like the end violin solo in THE WHO's "Baba O'Riley." Halfway through the bass returns to strumming as the near-military drumming returns. Then the music stagnates and shifts, stagnates and shifts, several times over the next two minutes--including a couple of key/chord changes. At 11:25 the speed of these shifts quickens and a new upper register violin melody is added giving the song a little feeling of hopefulness. It's all here: death and destruction, chaos and confusion, as well as hope and optimism--this latter expressed beautifully (intentionally?) with the ending melody from (or a variation on) THE BEATLES' song "With a Little Help From My Friends." This song makes me appreciate GY!BE's genius. (9/10)

3. "FamFamine" (6:44) opens with some loosely conjoined one-and two-note droning from a variety of stringed instruments. Gradually the weave tightens and forms into a kind of FRIPP-ENO edgy-ambient thing. Interestingly, I would have liked this one had a JOHN LENNON/BEATLES sound and melody not appeared and moved to center in the fifth and sixth minutes (the same melody from the opening of the album's opening song). (8.5/10)

4. "Anthem for No State (Pt. I, II, & III)" (14:41) opens in a quiet simplistic way that I should like, but the use of the pedal steel (or "infinite guitar," saw, dobro, or whatever that whining, droning, incessantly sustaining sound is caused by) is not to my liking. Also the heavily fuzzed guitar doing most of the lead work is just to fuzzy for my tastes. The Country Western simplicity is maintained for six full minutes before bagpipes and distorted guitar strumming take over and turn the song into a SWANS-like emotional release. (Who came first, SWANS or GY!BE?) With four minutes left the song finally achieves full development. Nice drumming behind the weave of electrified stringed instruments. At 12:30 the song finally reveals a melody worth noting, worth remembering--which plays out with the song's finish. (8/10)

 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.96 | 83 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by villageglobal

5 stars After many listens, this is an amazing album. They project the word Hope in their live performances, and this is what this album sounds like. The 6 minutes or so drone pieces are huge walls of sounds, but less electronic than the ones on Asunder or Allelujah.

The violin takes a lot of place and builds beautiful melodies. The longer 14 minutes pieces are great too and are pretty catchy, I often find myself humming the melodies sometimes. Bosses hang gets a bit repetitive after a while, but not enough to make the song boring.

It's always a pleasure to discover new Godspeed material, this isn't my favorite album but it feels fresh and hopeful.

 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.75 | 91 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by thesameoldfears

4 stars As others have pointed out, this album starts and ends with a bang, and the two middle tracks are more experimental/drone without any established melodies.

For the longest time I didn't know how to rate this album, but four stars out of five seems about right. The first time I heard this album was when I saw Godspeed! live in late 2013. They had been playing this piece in its entirety on tour before actually releasing it in 2015. When I heard it live I remember I thinking the middle section dragged on a bit, but the end was so startling and powerful that it made it worth the buildup.

Conceptually this album is very interesting because it's basically the whole thing is one big decrescendo, followed by one big crescendo. In Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light! you have all 8 musicians all playing very loud, dense, and fairly melodic music, but then as it goes into Lambs' Breath it slowly sheds each of these qualities and unravels to the point where it's just a single tone ringing for about 2 minutes. This single tone connects Lambs' Breath to Asunder, Sweet. The process then reverses itself as the single tone is joined by other strange sounds in Asunder, Sweet, which keeps building and building. By the time you get to Piss Crowns are Trebled the sound is extremely intense, exploding into a bang of a conclusion.

Piss Crowns Are Trebled is one of my favorite Godspeed! tracks. The dense instrumentation and loud angsty energy really pushes the listener to the max, but at also feels kind of uplifting despite its heaviness. The thrilling closing of Piss Crowns Are Trebled packs more of a punch when you've heard the meandering of Lambs' Breath and Asunder, Sweet before it, though many listeners will want to skip over these middle tracks. Interestingly, when I saw Godspeed! live a second time, when they played this album the two middle tracks were significantly shorter than on the studio album. That may have been a good choice as far as the audience's patience goes. Hard to say. Either way, what we have here is a very interesting artistic statement. It's a little too uneven to be a five star album, but the finale Piss Crowns Are Trebled is a prog epic for the ages.

 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.96 | 83 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The latest Godspeed You Black Emperor! album continues the trend of "Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress" to go for a terse single LP length for Godspeed album releases, with four songs ranging from about 6 to 14 minutes. Whereas Asunder, Sweet consisted of two conventional Godspeed compositions as bookends and improvised jams in the middle, here the psychedelic and garage rock primal DNA is integrated more into the compositions themselves, yielding an album which combines the stateliness and emotional power of classic Godspeed with the raw energy that A Silver Mt. Zion consistently captures and which the improvisational tracks on Asunder, Sweet tap into.

There's also more of an air of hopefulness on Luciferian Towers than in previous Godspeed works. Whilst recent releases had backed away a little from the unrelenting pessimism of their earliest work, here the album ends on a positively triumphant note. It's a strong return to form after the experimentation of Asunder, Sweet and proves that there's still gas in the Black Emperor's tank.

 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.75 | 91 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress is a Godspeed album which might trip up even long-time listeners of the band; the opening and closing tracks are masterful post-rock compositions of the standard we have come to expect from the Canadian unit, but the middle two tracks get a certain amount of flak, being as they are wild improvisational jams.

The trick to remember is that this is how the Godspeed live experience works - it's a side to their sound which they haven't gone out of their way to include on their studio albums before, but I think it works as a wild interlude between the two major pieces. The improvisations in question aren't brilliant as standalone pieces, mind - but then again, Godspeed have always put together albums which go best as integral listening experiences in their own right, rather than bits to shuffle into a playlist at random.

 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.96 | 83 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by loulou24

5 stars I know a lot of people will hate this album. Many will claim that there's no element to the godspeed sound and other will say that they're old, too happy and can't make a great album like lift your skinny fist anymore. LT is no way like lift your skinny fist or F#A# but it 's even so one of the best albums of the year.

It is the first new compositions of the band since 2003 (alleluiah and assunder includes old works before the split up). More happier and shorter stuff is happening and it's great. There is call back themes (bosses hang, fam famine) which never happens in any GY!BE albums. A Morricone-like feel (Anthem for no state) and a happy ending.

I am enjoying to hear futur release from this awesome band that is really progressive.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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