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A Silver Mt. Zion - This Is Our Punk-Rock, Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing CD (album) cover


A Silver Mt. Zion


Post Rock/Math rock

3.30 | 52 ratings

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4 stars A Silver Mt. Zion continues to change with their 3rd full length album and the name has been expanded to "The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-la-la Band (with Choir)". With this album, called " 'This is Our Punk-Rock' The Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing", the core band remains, but an amateur choir made up of 22 friends of the band has been integrated into the music. This album consists of 4 long tracks, divided up into suites in the same manner as their previous albums and the albums of "GY!BE". In this album, however, we see that A Silver Mt. Zion is moving away from their GY!BE roots and striving to create a new post-rock sound of their own.

The first track "Sow Some Lonesome Corner So Many Flower Bloom" demonstrate that sound difference right from the get-go, incorporating the choir immediately with the band as a backup. The music here is original and well done, even though the only words are meaningless lyrics like "Fa-la-la" and etc., yet it still sounds very meaningful. The choir sings an anthem to one of the selected empty or unused spaces in Montreal that the band pays homage to in the album. The choir continues through the first half of this 16 minute track before the band takes over with the lovely instrumental section, driven by violin and guitar. Eventually, the music builds in intensity and emotion, making for a lovely crescendo and when the music hits its apex, it can set your heart and mind racing.

"Babylon Was Built on Fire / StarsNoStars" begins with warbling guitars chiming softly creating a sparse atmosphere. After 3 minutes, violins emerge from the haziness of the music, and slowly build as guitar effects push them on. A feeling of an atmospheric dirge is created, but before the 6 minute mark, the echoing background stops and Efrim's vulnerable vocals start. Those familiar with his vocals know what to expect, but otherwise they may be a bit of a shock to some with his appealing yet amateurish sound. Later a guitar and violin duet help increase the intensity a bit, but even with the tortured sounds further in the back ground, this still remains somewhat minimal. A few melodies come and go through the vocals, and the use of building intensity through repetitive vocals eventually takes hold, and soon contrasting melodies and vocals are layered over each other, and there is that frantic feeling you get as the themes fight against each other in voices and instruments. The intensity breaks before the ending and things quickly calm as the violins continue a pizzicato passage to take things to the end.

"American Motor Over Smoldered Field" begins with jangly guitars and with Efrim singing quietly. Soon the strings come in (there is a small string quartet played among the group members) and the music gets a stark, yet lush feel as the vocals build tension. The drums kick in suddenly after 4 minutes when the vocals end and the small orchestra becomes full with a nice harshness to it. At 7 minutes, the intensity subsides suddenly and a solo violin plays against a minimal guitar. The core group forms their own layered wordless vocals as the music builds, then Efrim's vocals start again with a repeated lyric as the music throbs along until the end.

"Goodbye Desolate Railyard" utilizes the amateur choir again. This starts with Efrim singing a homage to the old train yard before it is removed with a melody that isn't as dark as you would expect since the lyrics look back to the days that were better when the trains were still running. The music converges to a drone-like quality at the 4 minute mark. This intensifies until it fades to railway sounds at 8 minutes. A lone acoustic guitar finally comes in after 10 minutes and hesitant vocals join in and the choir slowly joins in to the repeated lyrics.

Except for maybe the last track which is not quite as interesting, I think this album is judged a little too harshly. I had a hard time with it at first, but the more I hear it, the more I think it is pretty amazing how the band can describe the emotions of loneliness and sparseness, that it's not always just sadness and quietude, but it is also anguish and rage. A Silver Mt. Zion can express all of this in their music. Many complain about Efrim's strange vocals, but honestly, I can't see how any other vocals could fit this music. This album definitely deserves a little more love, and to get that, it needs to be given a chance. It's true that the last track is lacking a bit, but the other tracks are definitely 5 star material, so this album easily deserves at least 4 stars.

TCat | 4/5 |


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