Godspeed You! Black Emperor
22nd September 2017 – Constellation Records
01. Undoing a Luciferian Towers
02. Bosses Hang
03. Fam / Famine
04. Anthem for No State
In the realm of post-rock there is no more prestigious name than Godspeed You! Black Emperor. With over two decades of experience under their belt, a handful of universally praised classic albums and a plethora of side projects, Godspeed are the be all end all for the genre. After an extended hiatus, Godspeed have returned to regular album releases every few years. Luciferian Towers is the third release in this second wind of their career; a furious and frenzied call to the end of capitalism and the end of its continued universal suffering for all those imprisoned in its shackles.
The album begins with “Undoing A Luciferian Tower“, a slow churning song that twists and swirls the listener through an ever-building hum and buzz of guitars, and gentle pounding of dual drumming. It’s a singular track of growing noise and anticipation, acting as the calm before the storm, and a welcome dose of levity from the blistering stampede of riffs and cataclysmic drone that were prevalent on the last two albums, Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress and ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!. The track feels almost cinematic in scope; the type of music you’d expect to see in a wide panning shot in a film from Kubrick. It evokes beautiful vistas in the mind, and elicits a calm serenity in the listener.
This transitions into “Bosses Hang” and the true meat of the album…one would hope. The song is split into three distinct movements – and ‘tracks’, for all intents and purposes – which gives the listener ample time and space to distinguish and appreciate each individual component of the song. However, the music ends up meandering and muddling together; slow monotone chords and riffs hum and strum away, but never build towards anything truly noteworthy – the same of which can be said for the final song “Anthem for No State“, which is also split in three.
This breakage of tracks does allow the album some negative space to digest and appreciate each individual movement, however it breaks up the overall cohesion of the record. The majority of music on the record is slow and plodding. Methodically melodic in its slow churning nature, it creates a pleasant listening experience but continually lacks any drive or impetus.
Despite the lengthy, and chaotic material in the press release for Luciferian Towers, there seems to be very little narrative cohesion to the album: no vocals to be found at all, nor any of their trademark field recordings. It’s hard to take the album seriously as a political or ideological statement when there are no actual words or statements uttered throughout the album. In the end, the press release and the angered and passionate calls to action fall on deaf and unsympathetic ears.
Reviewing this album took some time, and ultimately became an exercise in frustration. There’s just not much to say or talk about with it. It’s beautiful in its simplicity, but it lacks any real passion. Luciferian Towers is a far cry from the technical proficiency and artistic undertaking of prior releases, but it is a decent listening experience in its own right. It’s far from impressive, especially when compared to their back catalogue, or some of the more recent post-rock and metal heavy hitters, but it does act as a very soothing and hypnotic listening experience.
Sometimes a smaller, and more intimate album can be a nice departure from the majority of a band’s work. Consisting of eight rather short tracks, rather than the over bloated and unnecessarily lengthy affairs they usually spill out, Luciferian Towers is filled with small, intimate sounds that exude emotion. Sometimes that’s all you need. But for others who require headier experiences, and more forward driven post-rock, look elsewhere.