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Godspeed You! Black Emperor
’Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! - CONSTELLATION
FILTER Grade: 90%

By Marty Sartini Garner on November 7, 2012


Godspeed You! Black Emperor

In retrospect, we should’ve expected the sap being stored up throughout Maple Spring to be tapped by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. As if it needed any reason to exist besides to mark the end of GY!BE’s 10-year absence from the fertile Montreal music scene, ’Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! feels something like a chronicle of the months-long student protests that gripped the Canadian metropolis this spring and arguably changed Quebec’s political makeup. “Feels” being the key word here: Their renewed position in the limelight hasn’t weakened Godspeed’s taste for opacity one bit. ’Allelujah!’s symmetrical sequencing—two 20-minute suites, two 6-minute drones—is as stark and stout as anything the band have released to date, unflinching as it stares extreme horror dead in the eye. Sustained, shining howls from Efrim Menuck’s hurdy-gurdy make “Their Helicopters Sing” sound like a parade in interminable slow motion, while Sophie Trudeau’s violin milks serious romance out of the prickled drain of “We Drift Like Worried Fire.” Opener “Mladic” is decorated in guitar notes plucked and unraveling like embroidered stars, eventually rounding into a cacophony of clanking metal and honking horns—it’s a field recording of students marching through downtown Montreal, banging on pots and pans, making a celebration out of protest. It is the album’s lodestar.

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