Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Godspeed You! Black Emperor has returned. The cultishly adored living legends of post-rock never spoke of a new album (its first in a decade). The band simply and suddenly had this new behemoth for sale at shows.
This new album is comprised of only four tracks. Two are but a sparse six minutes each. The other two are both 20. Despite this length, not a minute of the apocalyptic, sky-scraping music is wasted filler.
“Mladic” is an immediate example of how expansive a Godspeed track can be. Carefully crafted for seamless evolution, the slow-burn intro and eerie noises swell easily into a cacophonous tidal wave, carrying forward for several overwhelming minutes. An ebb and flow of emotion-swelling sound follows before winding down into a clanging, fading outro.
It sounds “epic,” and it is, more so than one could describe. Godspeed does that, often and well. They do so in a familiar, yet always-new way, one that doesn’t feel as tired as most post-rock.
The other long track (“We Drift Like Worried Fire”) is a subtler affair. It’s incredibly pretty, quite haunted and always impressive. Godspeed is one of the most compelling soundtracks people will hear, in movies both real and merely imagined.
Godspeed fills these lengthy songs with much tense, unnerving drone that can be hard to love. It’s something the band does exceedingly well, whether as a straight, long build and fizzle in “String Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable” or the undead, sawing orchestra of “Their Helicopters Sing.”
Godspeed’s return is a welcome re-refreshing of a stale genre. The influential examples of post-rock’s best show off the many traits they excel at: grandiosity, solemnity, beauty and wonder.
Post-rock may not be free of the jokes it inspires, but its figureheads are here to remind us of just how great the masters are.