Highlights: Fuck Off Get Free, Austerity Blues, Take Away These Early Grave Blues, What We Loved Was Not Enough
If there’s something I dislike more than long album titles, it’s long band names. And this particular band has a history of offensive behavior. At some point the fuckers were called The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band With Choir, and that was just plain rude.
But a little kid says ‘we make a lot of noise because we love each other’, and all my concerns are swept aside by the wall of sound that is both monstrous and absolutely majestic. If you love rock’n’roll (whatever that even means), you will love this. The intensity is overpowering, and it does indeed sound like early Arcade Fire possessed by the demons of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. “Fuck Off Get Free (For The Island Of Montreal)” is phenomenal. “Austerity Blues” is 14 minutes plus, and the demented acoustic rhythm at the beginning shouldn’t fool anyone. We are soon back to the guitar-violin slaughterhouse typical of this album.
And it is never one groove stretching over the whole duration of a song. They break it down, they do quieter parts, they raise intensity, they drop it back to zero. If Fuck Off Get Free is chaos, they have perfect control over it. The melodies are generally exciting, and you will find quite a few tunes and chants (check out that middle section of “Austerity Blues”) you could sing along to. At 6:47, “Take Away These Early Grave Blues” is almost too short. But what a hellish outburst. “Little Ones Run” is a much needed breather that is, inexplicably, a lovely if rather unnerving lullaby. “What We Loved Was Not Enough” is this album’s most subdued epic where the singer sounds very much like Win Butler at his most emotional/hysterical/anthemic. Nobody seems to like the closing track, but I personally find it a fitting and atmospheric end to whatever wildness and insanity we have already endured.
The cover is genuinely creepy but it’s not like it goes against the sound. The album is filthy and transcendental and it is forever engraved into my end-of-year top ten list. I have to say that Godspeed You! Black Emperor do not sound particularly great about now.