They’ve done it again. Just like back in 2010 when they re-appeared out of nowhere, Godspeed You! Black Emperor have again managed to sneak up on us and stir up the sound waves. This time they are back with a new album, their first one in a decade. That’s right, a decade. But then again GY!BE are not ones to cause a big fuss, except for when it comes to their music.
The new album, entitled Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation), proves that post-rocks’ foremost genre defenders are as vital as ever. Explosive symphonies driven by intense guitars and gushing with soothing strings that flow through the dark storms of massive drones and noise.Last year I got a chance to see GY!BE live in Helsinki and one new song that stood out for me personally was the then labelled “Albanian”. This song now appears on Allelujah as the 20 minute long album opener “Mladic”. Before this song is done with you it will have your head spinning. This is followed by equally lengthy “We Drift Like Worried Fire”, a song that starts with gentle guitar picking through a haunting, worried melody only to excel into a typical GY!BE crescendo exuberant with hope. After they’ve made you feel like you’re fundamentally free and invincible, a dark wind blows and reality sets in. The mood changes instantly, as if storm clouds just rolled in, and the doomsday strings begin to sing, marching drums warning you about and impending disaster, and then the firestorm sweeps in.
What happens during these first 40 minutes isn’t simply a clever play of dynamics by a set of well rehearsed musicians, rather a conceptualization of the politics behind their music. When put in contrast to GY!BE’s bleak outlook on capitalist society the emotional undertones of hope and despair, confinement and release which are always present in their music, become all the more significant.