Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Luciferian Towers

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Canadian instrumental collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor introduced their 2017 full-length Luciferian Towers with a press release containing a number of "grand demands," essentially calling for basic human decency and the end of xenophobia, concluding with an ultimatum that "the expert fuckers who broke this world never get to speak again." It goes without saying that the group have every reason to be disgusted and enraged by the state of the world, but instead of being overcome by rage or dread, they've created perhaps their most uplifting work to date. As with 2015's Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress, Luciferian Towers is concise by the band's standards, fitting on a single LP. Unlike that album, however, there aren't any meandering drone pieces here. Instead of gargantuan epics building from lengthy atmospheric sections to cathartic peaks, the compositions generally concentrate the group's energy into steady, elegant processions. Like GY!BE's prior release, there are no sampled monologues or field recordings present on this album, but it's clear that the group doesn't need them anymore, as the music communicates an enormous amount of emotion without words or incidental sounds. As the songs progress, they incorporate spiritual jazz horns and dramatic, rustic strings, but it's the smoldering guitars which carry much of the weight, along with the crashing drums. Violins seem to play more of a lead role in the group's sound here, recalling the majesty of the Dirty Three more than ever before. Two of the compositions are three-part suites, and the final one, "Anthem for No State," seems like the Godspeed equivalent of a Spaghetti Western score, with a lonesome, tremolo-inflected guitar intro and a lengthy, triumphant conclusion. Like many of Godspeed's albums, Luciferian Towers might seem bleak or funereal on the surface, but ultimately, it's incredibly optimistic and hopeful. Perhaps out of necessity, the group seem more inspired here than they have in a while, and the result is arguably their best work since their 2000 opus Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven.

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