I like Explosions in the Sky and appreciate some of the less bombastic work of Mono, but I've often wondered whether the spirit of experimental rock in the 1990's that helped give rise to what was later dubbed Post-rock, has been somewhat lost by the sort of music the Texas four piece and its Post-rock contemporaries have been making throughout the last ten years. To paraphrase a quote from Tiny Mix Tapes "Is Post-rock about stretching the possibilities of the live rock band, or delivering the emotional peaks and crescendos of the classical orchestra circa high-romanticism, with the economy of a touring punk band?" Godspeed You! Black Emperor is often seen as being one of the bands that turned Post-rock into something of an unrestrained spectacle in the late nineties. Their mixture of abstract vocal samples; lengthy movements and Slint indebted crescendo/diminuendo dynamics, basically shaped the landscape for what the genre would become in the 2000's.
If it weren't for the fact that Godspeed released several masterworks in this style before going on a ten year hiatus, they perhaps could be blamed for the lack-lustre state in which post-rock currently finds itself in. Of course it would be churlish of us to ridicule GY!BE for having such a strong influence on the bands that followed them, their amazingly apocalyptic music was far too powerful not to invite imitators. It's just a shame that nobodies been able to take that inspiration (beside Sigur Ros) and produce anything as forward thinking/genre defining as what the Canadian Octet were able to do before retiring indefinitely. When I heard GY!BE had reformed in 2010 I was veritably pleased (as you could imagine), but I didn't think they'd release any new material, at least not in what has become a terribly clichéd form anyway. I was wrong, on both counts. Godspeed have adorned us with their fourth studio album and it's exactly how you'd expect a post-rock record to sound like in 2012, except from the fact that it isn't predictable and boring. Far from that, it's actually rather sublime and pretty much single-handedly redeems/exposes the derivative and unimaginative work that has been posturing as experimental rock during GY!BE's absence.
"'Allejuah! Don't Bend! Ascend!" opens with a 20 minute leviathan by the name of Mladic, It's starts with an ominously slow build-up of treated violin's, distorted guitars and bass, before transforming into a blaring assault of metallic dissonance. As an opener, it's about as punishing as anything I've heard all year. The other beast on 'Allejuah ... is "We Drift Like Worried Fire," a constantly changing suite of, hellacious drumming, feedback, plucked and distorted guitars, and ineffable strings. The intensity of this track generates a gamut of emotions throughout its 20 plus minute playing time, the first half of the track has the elegiacally uplifting feel of Broken Social Scene at their most expressive, whilst the second half mainly gives way to adrenal fuelled alt rock and aggressively frightening industrial noise. The Two Drone Pieces that seperate the aforementioned tracks "Their Helicopters Sing" and "Strung Like Lights Thee Pretemps Erable" aren't to be overlooked as ambient noodling. They're a deadly mixture of intense cacophony and abrasive electronic noises that help to maintain the punishing feel of this record. Taken as a whole `Allejuah is as uncompromising as anything Godspeed have previously released and in virtue of that last statement it's also just as essential to listen to.