Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Asunder, Sweet, and Other Distress Album Review
Released March 31, 2015
Genre: Post Rock, Drone
Godspeed You! Black Emperor does not have to prove their relevance. Hell, their 1997 debut album F # A # ∞ earned them a lifetime of being able to do whatever the hell they want. Despite this, Godspeed continues to prove themselves as leaders in the post-rock genre at every possible junction, with many citing their 2012 comeback album ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! as a more than worthy return to glory following their hiatus. Godspeed’s new four-track album Asunder, Sweet, and Other Distress manages another stellar achievement for the band, one that thankfully doesn’t attempt to fix a working machine.
We’re introduced to Asunder with a bang in the form of “Peasantry, or ‘Light! Inside of Light.” “Peasantry” sounds almost apocalyptic, violent. This angry track is certainly a way to start an album. What I dig most about “Peasantry” is its strange Egyptian influence that manifests in the guitars around the song’s midpoint, kind of like “Mladic” off of Allelujah! “Peasantry” is interrogative, but one has to listen to the following three tracks to understand what Godspeed is asking.
“Lambs’ Breath” and “Asunder, Sweet,” Asunder’s centerpieces, are perhaps the album’s most interesting tracks, if not its most enjoyable. “Lambs’ Breath” follows “Peasantry” to serve as a unique counterpoint. “Lambs’ Breath” contrasts “Peasantry” and its angry energy by presenting wrenched strings and a constant drone. It’s strangely subdued. “Asunder, Sweet,” track three, serves as the eeriest of the songs. The combination of solar beeps and the contentious violin create an undeniably obvious nerve-wracking sensation stemming from a sense of paranoia. These middle songs earn my respect for the sheer commitment to experimentation.
The final track, “Piss Crowns Are Trebeled,” is without a doubt Asunder’s crowning glory. It’s a deeply emotional piece featuring militarized drumming that initially seems to be at odds with the longing guitar riffs. As the track builds, however, we learn that the instruments are not actually warring at all. Instead, they’re parts of the same whole that became more familiar with each other as “Piss Crowns” escalates to its magnificent conclusion.
Asunder is not a huge shift in form for Godspeed. It is, for the most part, what we’ve come to expect. This is not to say that the album feels like Godspeed is stagnant, not at all. No, the band is simply evolving naturally. There are several moments where Godspeed allows themselves to meander, which is highly refreshing. Certainly there are dramatic climaxes, but each one feels natural and earned.
So, should you listen to Asunder, Sweet, and Other Distress? If you’re a fan of Godspeed, the chances of you being disappointed are minimal. If you’ve never listened to any post-rock, you probably want to just ease yourself into it.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: Piss Clowns Are Trebeled
LEAST FAV TRACKS: Asunder, Sweet