ALBUM REVIEW: Godspeed You! Black Emperor elicits melancholy amidst political turmoil with Luciferian Towers

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, luciferian towers

At some point, Canadian post-rockers Godspeed You! Black Emperor will realize their creative scope is finite, right? Wrong!

Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Sept. 22

Once again, the nine-piece collective that never ceases to amaze, lulls listeners with a record exceptionally postured by the band’s unique instrumental punch. Its seventh album, Luciferian Towers distinguishes itself  from the band’s back catalog with crescendos spanning almost 40 minutes, bursting asunder with sonic shrapnel in the form of two halves titled “Bosses Hang” (Pts. I, II, III) and “Anthem For No State” (Pts. I, II, III).

Prefacing each half of this sweeping project are two marvelously composed pieces that operate as Luciferian‘s connective tissue. The intro track, “Undoing A Luciferian Towers,” sets the road for an atmospheric cry of determination, as steady percussion and valiant leading horn sections initially placate listeners’ ears. However, the track quickly takes a turn as its expansive melody steadily builds into something utmost hellish with the horns now squealing, splintering at the gates of an apocalyptic realm.

Following the album’s opener, Godspeed You! Black Emperor harkens to its formative years in the three-part epic  “Bosses Hang.” Nonetheless, they acquire a more polished approach, combining post-rock tension-and-release with a classical ear for grander structures. At this point, the band members have thrown listeners into an immersive loop inside their own heads, offering a rare moment in the midst of the flash by night nature of life. Here, Godspeed You! Black Emperor allows the mind to drift into an unfettered equilibrium. One inevitably ruminates over their purpose in life, his standing amongst society, what her future holds, his worth according to others and her innermost fears and anxieties. I guess you can say at this point, Luciferian Towers is a microcosm of an existential crisis. However, it’s a reassuring one; a lucid retreat into the subconscious.

Following the arousing and thunderous 15 minutes of “Bosses Hang,” the band injects listeners with a sonic valium in the form of the track “Fam/Famine.” This ambient piece is a miracle drug for the anxious and for those who toil over the caustic sociopolitical atmosphere. It’s an explosion of vitality and comfort aimed at your vitals. “Fam/Famine” is devastatingly gorgeous as it cascades vast soundscapes of strings and pacifying synths to evoke the most melancholic of reactions, and yet only fellow post-rockers Sigur Ros can elicit a comparable reaction from its listeners.

It’s would be nice to have moments in our lives to just simply take a breather and soak in life. With Godspeed You! Black Emperor, this fantasy is possible and Luciferian Towers is an appropriate avenue for spiraling into a relaxed state. Despite how gorgeous and affecting  Luciferian Towers sounds, Godspeed You! Black Emperor is a manic depressive collective adamant in making a profound political stance. By simply listening to Luciferian Towers, it’s quite difficult to gauge the political underpinnings, but with a history of stimulating pity and fear; the band laments the dichotomous nature of the human condition; both its inherent beauty and its tendencies towards inevitable destruction played out in the spectacle of the modern world.

Once again, Godspeed You! Black Emperor delivers catharsis in the midst of a time where people are selfishly insatiable and bound for destruction.

In hindsight of the morose subtext of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s music, one cannot doubt the band’s ability to provoke such a head-rush and striking explosion of pure wonder. As you embark on this murky, atmospheric world of Luciferian Towers, you will have unearthed something grand: a world unhinged by political dismay and sonic extravagance.

With Luciferian Towers, the band can’t quite reach the level of its younger years; however, it signifies a drastic improvement over its previous effort, as its substantially more expansive and dynamic approach to arrangements helps listeners remember exactly why the band is a preeminent pioneer of the post-rock scene.

For some reason, after experiencing this album, everything seems a little better. Perhaps, for the first time, living directly from your head is not such a bad thing. Rather, it’s a meditative experience—one made possible through the amplified and evocative ambiance of Luciferian Towers.

Follow writer Kyle Kohner at

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