The indefinite hiatus of Godspeed You! Black Emperor has been hard on followers of post-rock. For each year that has passed since their last record, 2002’s Yanqui U.X.O., a little bit of every GY!BE fan must surely have died. How appropriate it must be for a band, whose sound and conviction was drenched in such inspired desolation, to leave a gap so hollow that no matter how many artists source their blueprint (from the experimental ambience of Set Fire to Flames to Clint Mansell’s compelling score for Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain), no one has yet come close to filling the void.
Intriguingly, Portland’s Strangers Die Every Day acknowledge that the best form of flattery is not imitation. Sure, any lazy critic who’s watched 28 Days Later will stamp them with the GY!BE mark and be done with it. But where Strangers Die Every Day show most promise is their ability to take Godspeed’s cue—building crescendos, impressive movements that ark and fall—and create their own distinct, gothic, chamber music. So while the descending darkness is more than apparent, there’s also a sweeping beauty that brings in the classic approach of Rachel’s, with even hints of the giants of their genre, Kronos Quartet. An impressive debut.