Music

Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Luciferian Towers

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

In a slow-moving reconfiguration of its sound, Godspeed You! Black Emperor releases their most accessible and melodic work to date.


Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Luciferian Towers

Label: Constellation
US Release Date: 2017-09-22
UK Release Date: 2017-09-22
Amazon
iTunes

The seven-year-long hiatus Godspeed You! Black Emperor went on was a period highlighted by the void they left behind. Having released three albums before, with the exceptional Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven standing out, the band moved into a period of hibernation. The results of this break came to fruition in 2012, with the group's new album 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, a record that rivaled the quality of Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, which needless to say was a herculean task.

The return however also signaled a period of change for Godspeed You! Black Emperor and this became more apparent with Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress. The band's shortest album still featured all the qualities associated with its earlier works, from the massive crescendos to the drifting drones, from the ethereal atmosphere to the heavy riffs, but it presented them in a condensed fashion. The new album, Luciferian Towers, carries down this path with a more adventurous outlook, as the band reconfigures its sound with a different focus.

That is not to say that the band has changed its style, but rather that it is going through a process of evolution. The main aspect that has changed is that Godspeed You! Black Emperor doesn't run with the same force and energy it used to. The promise of the famed post-rock crescendos, violent and heavy outbreaks after an intense build-up, is never fully delivered in Luciferian Towers, despite the heavy riffs of “Bosses Hang Pt. I” or the acceleration of the repetitive patterns in “Bosses Hang Pt. II” and especially “Bosses Hang Pt. III”. Considering the political edge the band has always chosen to focus on, with its raging anger towards capitalism and neoliberal notions, it is rather a strange stand that it takes when it comes to the progression and weight of Luciferian Towers. It is a living contradiction in itself, and one that becomes more and more intricate as the album unfolds.

Instead, Godspeed You! Black Emperor explores the melodies and harmonies that can exist in its concepts. And that's what makes Luciferian Towers by far the most melodic work the band has ever released, with the first two parts of “Anthem to No State” highlighting this notion entirely. This conscious choice is implemented perfectly by the stunning lead work, arriving with so much emotion, as Sophie Trudeau's violin performance particularly contributes to this monumental effort.

Despite the nurturing of melody, elements of experimentalism still run rampage in the music, as has always been the case with the band's vision. Constructing grand atmospheres, making use of feedback loops and audio effects, the band creates this stunning void comprised of dissonance. Clashing with the melodic qualities of its music, the two elements reach a higher, richer sonic dimension, with Godspeed You! Black Emperor channeling all its creativity to complete this extravagant trip. That is particularly felt in the only slight outbreak of the record, the ending part of “Anthem For No State Pt III” where the band compromises between its heavier self, filled with an upbeat drum pace and the feedback frenzy, alongside the excellent lead guitar parts. It is the closest thing to chaos Luciferian Towers brings.

Luciferian Towers finds Godspeed You! Black Emperor in a strange place. When the group released 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, it seemed like the path which opened with F # A # ∞ was still in place. But since Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress and especially now with Luciferian Towers, the ensemble is in a moment of transition. Hanging on to individual elements of its past, Godspeed You! Black Emperor is slowly reinventing its sound, working on its intricacies and dynamics, focusing on different elements and trying to awaken different emotions. Even though it doesn't seem like this is the end of this road, the process has already borne fruit in the case of Luciferian Towers and presented a different facade. But it feels there is still ground to cover to reach the end goal, and that is very promising.

7

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image