Since reforming in 2010 after a seven year break, Canadian collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor have dived straight back into being an active band and show little signs of slowing down. ‘Luciferian Towers‘ is their third long player since their comeback LP in 2012, sixth in total, and as always has been greeted with much excitement from their extremely loyal fan-base. I must admit, it’s taken me a while to understand why Godspeed have such a huge following, but the more that I study their back catalogue the more I appreciate the huge, sprawling soundscapes that they so expertly craft.
For me, it’s all about the build with Godspeed. I love those huge walls of noise that they so intricately construct and when they reach that explosive climax, when it comes crashing down in a blaze of glory, it is nothing but euphoric. Patience is definitely a virtue when listening to Godspeed and on Luciferian Towers, the payoffs are huge!
Opening track ‘Undoing A Luciferian Towers‘ is a pretty menacing intro, as you are hit with a descending vortex of noise. Trumpets and saxophone howl and squeal around two pummelling drum kits to create this apocalyptic jazz freak-out. But weirdly, there is no feeling of impending doom, it just feels like it’s working out where to go, how to get to the light and it does. Ride cymbals crash in and on the final minute we are absorbed in this bewilderingly beautiful melody. That’s what I get from the record; there is a lot of bleakness to sift through but you are rewarded with moments of pure lushness.
I love how little motifs are brought back throughout the record. The warm swirling melody that completes the opening track is reprised at the end of ‘Fam/ Famine‘, which until that point combines warm swirls of violin with pulsating throbs of sub-bass and string stabs for another beguilingly haunting passage.
‘Bosses Hang‘ and ‘Anthem For No State‘ take the bulk of the record up but are both split into three parts. Bosses Hang begins with fuzzed up guitars and soaring strings that crash into this mountain scaling post-rock breakdown. It is nothing short of breathtaking. We are next taken into this calm yet psychedelic path before exploding into a volcano of screeching violins and roaring guitars that takes us to new sonic heights of splendour!
Anthem Of The State is a much more slow burning affair that begins gentle and gracious, but as feedback rolls in for a finale, it brings back the descending vortex we hear at the start of the record. Thunderous drums and wailing guitars bring in a final riff that builds to an extremely dramatic conclusion. It may not be the uplifting ending I was expecting, but it is very powerful and incredibly euphoric!
Although Luciferian Towers is a winding, spiralling piece of music that goes through many twists and turns, it’s probably Godspeed’s most digestible record to date. This is down to the strength of the melodies constructed and without the drone-driven tones of older material, it makes for a stronger flow and, if anything, intensifies the power of its crescendos. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to take in here and this still requires your full attention, but overall ‘Luciferian Towers‘ sees Godspeed You! Black Emperor at their most powerful, fearless and beautiful.