Home > News & Reviews > Godspeed You Black Emperor

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Luciferian Towers (Album Review)

Wednesday, 27 September 2017 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

If we’re being blunt, Canadian collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor are one of the few second wave post-rock bands still worth a damn.

The dreamy soundscapes conjured by Sigur Rós during their ‘00s stretch have aged well, while no band has been able to replicate Mogwai’s unwavering miserabilism even half as well. But Godspeed are still the kingpins when it comes to awe-inspiring orchestral rock.

Their crescendo-based sound has spawned innumerable imitators, to the point where their own recent records have felt a little stale and paint-by-numbers.

Tracks on their 2015 effort ‘Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress’ utilised the same techniques that made their reputation: recurring melodic motifs, droning guitars and majestic climaxes. But they lacked intensity and purpose.

‘Luciferian Towers’ rights these wrongs to some extent. Bosses Hang and Anthem For No State, the two ‘suites’, hark back to their earlier records because they cover all the bases. Godspeed’s fist in the air moments never simply arrive – they’re the result of meticulous build ups, with subtle melodic phrasings being introduced at the right moment. For the longer tracks, at least, they get both planning and execution right this time around.

Bosses Hang, in particular, introduces a stirring plagal theme, articulating first the melodic parts then the rhythmic parts as the main focal point, before winding into a syncopated climax and returning to the theme at the end. It’s a circular approach we’ve not heard from Godspeed in years, but the sheer drama makes the progression immensely satisfying.

Similarly, Anthem For No State is a rollercoaster full of thrills and twists like Storm from the album ‘Lift Yr Skinny Fists…’. The band’s beloved tremolo is all over this track, enriching both guitar and violin, but it’s used to smoothly manage gear changes as opposed to serving as mere window dressing for their wall of sound.

Ironically, this wall also illuminates their biggest weakness. Godspeed are still experts at timbre and their sonic palette remains impressive, but they no longer use space as effectively. The opening track, Undoing a Luciferian Towers, drones on mercilessly with nothing but a snare drum to keep it in check. When it finally pipes up in trademark fashion, the transition feels forced. Meanwhile, Fam/Famine’s subtle dissonance feels out of context amid the bombast that surrounds it.

As explained in the liner notes, anti-capitalist messaging underpins many of the band’s compositional choices. Structural ideas of destruction and reconstruction are alluded to, which explains the sharp contrast between the shorter and longer pieces on the record. With those themes fresh in mind, the album’s big moments carry a semblance of sense.

But you can’t help but be reminded that their earliest material tended to speak for itself – the crushing moments, the beautiful moments, all of it. Perhaps the absence of field recordings and vocal samples have something to do with it, but there’s something missing from ‘Luciferian Towers’ that holds it back from being truly immersive.

Godspeed You Black Emperor Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon October 23 2017 - BRIGHTON Dome
Fri October 27 2017 - GLASGOW O2 ABC
Sat October 28 2017 - MANCHESTER Victoria Warehouse
Mon October 30 2017 - BRISTOL Motion
Tue October 31 2017 - LONDON Troxy

Click here to compare & buy Godspeed You Black Emperor Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!

Related News

Godspeed You! Black Emperor Share Opening Track Of New Album 'Luciferian Towers'
Wed 30 Aug 2017
Godspeed You! Black Emperor have shared Undoing a Luciferian Towers, the opening track of their new album.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Announce New Album 'Luciferian Towers'
Wed 02 Aug 2017
Godspeed You! Black Emperor will release a new album next month.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Confirmed For Transformer 2 Manchester Date
Tue 06 Jun 2017
Godspeed You! Black Emperor have been confirmed for a Manchester date as part of Transformer 2.
Tenacious D Confirm Dublin Arena Show As Part Of February European Tour
Mon 11 Nov 2019
Tenacious D have lined up an Irish arena show early next year.
Alter Bridge - Walk The Sky (Album Review)
Fri 25 Oct 2019
Hammered out in what may or may not come to be known as a wham-bam, thank you ma’am style of recording, Alter Bridge’s sixth album was crafted in a whirlwind five week period that had led to some of its greatest strengths and the odd nagging concern. Deliberately their most out-and-out batch of inspiring anthems, ‘Walk The Sky’ largely typifies why they’re still the reigning kings of emotionally intense, ferociously well executed arena rock.
White Lies Share New Track Falling Out Without Me
Fri 08 Nov 2019
White Lies have shared a new track.
Jack Black and Jack White Team Up For New Tenacious D Single Don't Blow It, Kage
Wed 04 Dec 2019
Jack Black and Jack White have teamed up for Tenacious D’s latest single.
R.E.M. Release Previously Unheard Uptempo Mo Distortion Demo
Fri 25 Oct 2019
Photo: David Belisle R.E.M. have put out another previously unreleased demo from their upcoming 'Monster 25' box set.
< Prev   Next >