Godspeed You! Black Emperor are one of those bands that had always intimidated me. A band consisting of anywhere between 10 to 15 anarchists/political activists that made music reminiscent of folk doom metal. Imagine Neutral Milk Hotel making funeral dirges for some post-apocalyptic dystopia, equal parts accordion, tribal drums, and Marshall stacks feedbacking into oblivion. It seemed as if I just wasn’t smart enough to even attempt this band.
But once I dug in I was amazed at the heart and emotional depth this Canadian experimental music collective created on their albums. Political? Yes. Angry and raging against any and all machines? Check. But the music and artistry was second to none.
On the band’s latest, the curiously titled G_d’s Pee at State’s End!, GY!BE lock into classic vibes after a couple records that veered slightly. The results are an epic album that runs the listener over in waves of sonic beauty and social discourse.
With every GY!BE album there’s a certain amount of chaos, and album opener “A Military Alphabet (five eyes all blind) [4521.0kHz 6730.0kHz 4109.09kHz]” is just that. As if running into some alien communication on a static-filled radio dial, the song morphs into distorted guitar with an almost bluesy demeanor. Strings(both electric guitar and violin) drone on and bring us into the album’s world. “Job’s Lament” continues that vibe with urgency and that folk/doom vibe.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor make albums that feel like scores to some epic film. Something with lots of battles on bloody fields, planetary drama, and that classic battle of good versus evil. “”GOVERNMENT CAME” (9980.0kHz 3617.1kHz 4521.0 kHz)” is the perfect example of what this band does so well. They create dissonance, in both sound and mood, and bring you into it to experience that world. Radio frequencies, voices yell, and then the music comes in. In this case distorted bass and guitar that build to a crescendo. It’s thoughtful, musical chaos.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor make music that needs to be experienced. Taken in, mainlined, and let it engulf you in its powerful sound and sentiment. G_d’s Pee at State’s End!, GY!BE is a record that you need to hear to understand, as is their entire discography. Powerful and thoughtful.
8.2 out of 10