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Alleluja! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
After 10 years, Godspeed You! Black Emperor has returned with its fourth album, Alleluja! Don’t Bend! Ascend! And, while its album packaging isn’t rife with politicized messages or artwork that calls for rising up against the 1% (Yanqui and Lift Your Skinny Fists, respectively), the conflict that lies within all of Godspeed’s music – darkness and hope and how it pushes and pulls against each other – is still present.
And they haven’t missed a step.
This latest release shows just how tight Godspeed can be. Opening track “Mladic” takes five minutes of setting the scene (quite beautifully, too, featuring guitars that emulate the sound of seagulls circling above, tinged with desperation), but it soon launches into a full attack. By the time we’re able to rest from the onslaught of distorted guitars, strings and booming percussion that holds it all together, we’re then thrown into the final movement that proves what a wrecking ball Godspeed can be when they’re all playing in lockstep with each other. It’s absolutely devastating.
Rising-action-to-climax is old hat for Godspeed, but there is a real sense of dynamic storytelling going on here with Allelujah! The beautiful “We Drift Like Worried Fire” provides the perfect balance to the frantic chaos of “Mladic” by giving the listener hope, reminiscent of “Gathering Storm” from Lift Your Skinny Fists.
It seems crazy to say that Godspeed “matured” on this latest release, but it isn’t too far off the mark. This nonet had nothing to prove to anyone, but with this album, they’re saying a hell of a lot.
Produced by Thierry Amar, David Bryant, Efrim Menuck, Mike Moya, Howard Bilerman