Godspeed You! Black Emperor
March 31, 2015
While Godspeed's music can sometimes be perceived as being slightly pretentious or being complex for the sake of being complex, I wouldn't say that is the heart of the matter. Carefully considering the piece of the cake that represents the post-rock subgenre one should conclude that this music isn't intended to be bitesized or easily swallowed. The music is equal parts creation and experience. One (creation) fuses into the other (experience) which can lead to new creation, etc. etc. And yes, it may be a little bit pretentious but maybe it needs to be. When you incorporate anti-establishment, apocalyptica, social commentary or, in this case, demonic imagery in nearly theatrical fashion, it helps if you are able to inflate the overarching theme; to make it an entity of its own.
In many aspects "Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress" reminds me of "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven" which, to me, is still the band's most impressive opus to date. The heavy thematic presentation is bookended by astounding rock compositions while the middle of this conceptual record features the bleaker and subtler arrangements of almost classical allure. The ability to create so much spellbinding background that isn't even really in the background is impressive.
I once had someone describing Godspeed to me as an act that writes post-modern opera music. More and more I tend to agree with that assessment. I called "Asunder..." an opus before. The massive and epic rock (Peasantry, or Light! Inside of Light!) opens the record with heaviness and anticipation that leads into the despair of an almost distopian and dreary existence (Lambs' Breath and Asunder, Sweet) which is eventually overthrown by a revolution in the final track (Piss Crowns Are Trebled). The slow and epic build up becomes more and more present until eventually the yoke is thrown off and Godspeed's massive sound soars high and mighty.
While it isn't a second "Lift Your Skinny Fists...", "Asunder..." approaches its brilliance. Especially since the music on the record could (and should) be perceived as a (post-)modern symphony. It is too soon to call it just yet but don't be surprised if this record ends up on many a year's end list at the end of 2015.