Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Luciferian Towers album review

Montreal’s instrumental post-rock heroes return in style

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Luciferian Towers album artwork

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It says much about their tenacious determination to remain private that Godspeed… are no more knowable now than when they first started in 1994. Canada’s greatest enigmas stopped giving interviews years ago, allowing the flow of their music to act as their sole mouthpiece, save for some inscrutable liner notes and curt press releases. This sixth album (and their third since reuniting in 2010) finds the nine-piece in scintillating form, creating semi-symphonic atmospheres that build inexorably and hover in the air, suspended by strings and shivery guitar drones. This is most explicit on Undoing A Luciferian Towers, which imagines a metropolis where skyscrapers have been stripped to their bones, leaving only braids of bare wires and hollowed windows. A mountain-folk feel permeates the first section of Bosses Hang, before looping into a keyboard motif and soaring higher. Meanwhile, another three hander, Anthem For No State, presents a future nightmare in which Canada is an environmental wasteland, its resources long since removed. It’s an extraordinary work that begins with an understated guitar figure and ends in an orchestral assault of distorted notes and crashing cymbals that scramble the senses.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.