Artist: Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Album: Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Record Label: Constellation
Release Date: 30th march 2015
Despite some of the epic soundscapes and walls of noise we're used to, it sort of feels like the sky is the limit on the Canadian veterans' 5th album
There are few bands who have garnered a die-hard cult reverence quite as extensive as Canadian instrumental rock veterans Godspeed You! Black Emperor. As a sort of long-lost brother figure to Scotland's Mogwai on the other side of the pond, since the late '90s they've been responsible for some of the most inadvertently crucial records to emerge from the alternative scene. Just like Mogwai, they've always been bigger than the "post-rock" tag lumped lazily upon them, and the feverish devotion of their most loyal fans makes every release feel like an event.
'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress' is their 5th full-length and at 40 minutes long feels relatively short. As such, there's an inescapable feeling of containment to this record that fans of the band won't be used to. Opener 'Peasantry, or 'Light! Inside of Light!'' begins like the soundtrack to a conquering Roman army re-entering the city after years away at war, but in its final 4 moments it seems considered almost to a lacklustre fault. The stinking bass distortion and epic piles of guitar and violin layering on 14 minute closer 'Piss Crowns Are Trebled' are vast, and the groove they hit at the 7 minute mark swirls into a rather triumphant gambit, but the whole oeuvre feels disappointingly unadventurous.
It's the less conventionally constructed tracks that prove the most rewarding here. The nail-bitingly bleak 10 minute dirge of 'Lambs' Breath' recalls the band's iconic song 'Dead Flag Blues', and it leads into the equally as squallish but more illustrious 'Asunder, Sweet', which becomes more melodically intense and beautiful before ending on a thick wall of thunderous feedback.
The frustrating thing about 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress' is that essentially it's just Godspeed doing what they do best, but this time around when they're really trying to fly they sound slightly caged. Fans of the band will find much to enjoy here, it's just not the most appropriate place to start.
Key Tracks: 'Lambs' Breath', 'Sweet, Asunder'
For Fans of: Mogwai, Swans, Fuck Buttons