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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2012
After a long musical hiatus, Godspeed You! Black Emperor return with a new line-up and a surprise new album `Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!', their first record in 10 years since 2002's `Yanqui U.X.O.'

`Mladic' begins as a delicate middle eastern-tinged drone, patiently building multiple washes of soaring distortion and screeching strings. Particularly impressive were the waves and waves of clashing percussion, driving the track throughout its 20 minutes. Possibly the noisiest track Godspeed You! Black Emperor have created, it's a beautiful showpiece opener, a slow-focused visceral onslaught that leaves you breathless. `Their Helicopters Sing' brings you back down from the elation of `Mladic' to channel you into tenser, flakier transitions. Bowed strings and dissonant pulsing drones are placed at the forefront, producing an altogether very different, almost elemental experience.

`We Drift Like Worried Fire' is the other 20 minute opus, and possibly Godspeed's most ambitious track. Some plucked strings set the tone, more instruments emerge but the development is at a strolls pace. The shifting music is allowed to grow organically but you don't often feel that any sound is wasted. Ten minutes in and the first climax has elapsed, a multitude of varying melodies and rhythms follow, a harrowing and moving journey ends with an uplifting final sequence. `Strung Like Lights...' ends the album, shallow layers of drone grow into thicker slabs of muzzled noise, diminishing back into a long continuous drone. A great way to end the album, after all the stirring and emotional upheaval, things settle, you move on.

You may quibble that `Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!' only has 4 tracks, or that `Mladic' and `We Drift Like Worried Fire' aren't even new tracks. But once you press play you forget everything and just enjoy the music which is so beautifully crafted. Godspeed You! Black Emperor return with a tremendous album, its a pleasure to have them back.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2012
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.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2012
I've loved GYBE since they had their exclamation mark at the end instead of the middle (no, me neither) and this was a real surprise, their first new album in ten years, released somewhat under the radar in October 2012. I'd heard this on a pre-release stream but that does not adequately prepare you for the CD which sounds huge. It's great to have them back. Apparently some of the tracks have been road tested under other names, so the band is well on top of it's material here. The bit on Mladic which on the streaming sounded a bit like Hawkwind here sounds more middle eastern and really massive. Surprisingly heavy. The two shorter tracks are more drone and trance like. We Drift Like Worried Fire is more like godspeed of old - classic. You can read a lot about the political import of what the band does, but this is, as always, instrumental music, which you can interpret or not; an attitude comes across which is sorely needed in a conforming music world. In doing so it is the music which rises above all else. As a rare press interview in the Guardian had it: "Do people like me just take you too seriously?" "Probably." Allelujah! indeed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2012
I have long been a fan of Godspeed, ever since I picked up a copy of their album F#A# based on a magazine review and was first captivated by this strange sound-scape. Sometimes impenetrable, creepy, hostile and driving, it ushered me into a new world of post-rock, populated by the likes of Mogwai, A Silver Mt. Zion, et al.

This album is possibly even better than that in my opinion. I'd also go out on a whim and say that it is one of their more accessible pieces of work. Although two of the songs are six times the length of your average pop tune, they are broken up into 'acts', filled to bursting with melodic hooks, key changes and a mighty, rumbling, cavernous energy.

Mladic is a real stomper that bursts in on you with immediacy. Huge riffs do their best to stifle the desperate cries of the orchestra, whilst a drummer - channeling the ghost of Keith Moon - doesn't so much simply keep time as beat the merry hell out of their kit. Their Helicopters Sing is a hissing, industrial piece that perfectly sets the tone for We Drift Like Worried Fire. Worried Fire starts off paranoid and haunted. If it was a person, it'd be sleeping under a railway bridge hiding from a terrible secret. As the drums kick in however, the song appears to grow wings and beat them furiously against the darkness. The paranoia returns around the mid-point, but by now this beast is in full voice and the violins soar majestically again at some sort of redemption. By the time of Strung Like Lights At Thee Printemps Erable, we're exhausted and feeling the after effects of what has come before, like the white noise of a television echoing the Big Bang.

Let's hope this isn't the last we've heard of Godspeed; although if this does turn out to be a final swansong it is one hell of a closing chapter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2012
this is storming, the opening track is immense. I had to a have a lie down half way thru. I love mogwai, sigur rus, explosions in the sky even sunn o))) this lp really throws down a musical gauntlet that I think all these great bands will struggle to pick up. it's not for the faint hearted and you won't hear it in bookshops or these new fangle coffee bars, but alone, in the dark with the headphones........................
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I put this album on just to try it, see what sort of music would be made, I have to say I found it very very peaceful and meditative. There are tracks that basically consist of a droning sound with random what sounds like improvisations around it, and there are Dangerous sounding tracks that build up and up and up and then dismantle themselves back down and it is very easy to get lost in a day dream while listening to it. ALOT of people would not consider this proper music as it has alot of cacophonic elements in it and things like that HOWEVER I think it is very very interesting music to listen to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2013
Maybe a slight exaggeration in my title but some of the material here reminded me of certain periods of Hawkwind. Overall not a bad album but not as good as their early work.
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on 26 November 2012
FOR USE WITH HEADPHONES

GYBE will never be mainstream & many will dismiss without giving this, or any of the previous work a fair listen....this is not background music nor something you could dip in / out of casually, it needs to be absorbed. GYBE scream to be heard via headphones, with no distractions the listener can dissolve into the soundscape & really appreciate whats on offer.
A fine return to form after too long away & an album that keeps on giving with every listen..
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on 11 February 2015
As I already owned their previous albums, it was inevitable that I would purchase this album. This is another brilliant piece of work by my favourite band. As a 63 year old, I find it impossible to persuade my friends and family to give them a try. You have to persevere and give it several listens before you realise the sheer beauty of the compositions. Although designated as "post rock", I prefer to call it "symphonic rock", but in essence, it is just wonderful music.
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on 26 November 2012
If you like very interesting and challenging listening that requires your engagement with the sounds offered aurally then this is for you! If you like easy access, pop, or are confused by de-constructed music, then give it a miss! Really rewarding. Needs a couple of listens to get to grips with the complex structures. This is never boring or predictable! Not really one for the car! I'll be looking out for more of their recordings from now on.
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