Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress (Constellation) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress


Mar 31, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Godspeed You! Black Emperor may be the first instrumental rock band with an almost anthropomorphic career arc. And if F# A# Infinity was the wasted 20-something prodigy too overwhelmed with the pain of the world to have a clear vision of tomorrow, we can be happy that said prodigy survived to be the thriving thoughtful grown-up she is on Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress. The complex panoramic optimo-nihilism of this Canadian collective has been transmuted into a laser focus that retains the vectors of its large ensemble while discovering a new unified vocabulary. Put simply, Godspeed rock the fuck out while still sounding like Godspeed.

The record explodes out of the gates with the ornately titled “Peasantry or ‘Light Inside of Light!’” (punctuation theirs), the anarcho-punk cousin of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” Big booming Bonham-esque drums herald powerful unison chords between all strings, fretted and bowed. In this new sonic sphere there’s no room for the soaring tremolo-picked guitars and drawn-out buildups that put Godspeed on the map and launched a wave of lesser imitators. The vibe is electric, heavy, even rather positive. There may be a guitar solo in there, even.

The piece devolves into a duo of drone compositions, “Lambs’ Breath” and “Asunder, Sweet.” While this dynamic nadir makes narrative sense as a thoughtful interlude before the heavenly punching riffs of “Piss Crowns Are Trebled,” at nearly half the album’s length the gesture overstays its welcome a bit. “Piss Crowns…” is more of that focused attack that “Peasantry…” made us love, but even more melodically simple. Within that simplicity, the individual gestures of Godspeed’s ensemble crawl in myriad directions, like an overturned rock revealing a colony of manic bugs.

If Asunder falters, it’s only in relation to the massively powerful catalog Godspeed already claim, a majority of which includes seminal contributions to the independent North American rock canon. Asunder may not be the second or third best Godspeed record but its likely to be one of the best records you hear this year and heralds a band that is not yet done creatively. It’s thrilling to see the kind of compelling adult this punky prodigy has grown into. (www.brainwashed.com/godspeed)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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