It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor were meant to make music that goes out of fashion.
You know, the wanky, twenty minute, nine piece instrumental ‘odyssey’ type crap that may have once stood for something, but is now best observed from a distance – banished to the realm of undergrad film projects.
So, after a 10 year hiatus, their return should have meant one thing – more scrap on the ‘once was hip’ junkpile. Right?
Somehow, ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! doesn’t seem wanky or pretentious at all. In fact, it feels weightier than anything they’ve ever recorded. The climaxes seem even more prolonged, and the eventual waterfalls of noise gush profoundly.
Of course, like all good things, ‘Allelujah requires patience. Indeed, for the first eight minutes of the twenty-minute opening track “Mladic”, the cogs only begin to turn.
Melodies are explored yet never fully realised, as if the band are ducking into lanes, covering their tracks as they go.
But as things begin to fall into place, the piece grows from the seeds of eerie chiming percussion into a grisly battleground of distorted guitars and screaming violins.
It’s both crawlingly desperate and triumphant at the same time – as though genocide and hope found themselves on same canvas.
The second of the 20-minute tracks “We Drift Like Worried Fire” is quicker to the point. The sparks catch almost immediately, and at some points it seems to prickle with the energy of their understudies (Mogwai et al).
The inferno that ensues however, is a type of chaos that only Godspeed could conceive.
Closely resembling their 1997 record, F♯ A♯ ∞, in both style and form, yet with a decidedly Eastern feel, ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend is a stunning return to form by a band that really never fell out of form in the first place.
Godspeed You! Black Emporer have again managed to reinvent themselves and their genre by doing precisely what they’ve always done – making music that, at this moment in time, really matters.