It first appeared at a Boston show at the beginning of the month with absolutely no fanfare, and will be released through Montreal-based label Constellation Records next week. What was only rumours just months ago has come to fruition: the first Godspeed You! Black Emperor LP in a decade, 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Is the world ready for another Godspeed record? The Montreal nine-piece’s mystique certainly hasn’t faded, and with their reunion touring over the last 18 months, a whole new generation of fans now had something more to cling onto than the band’s back catalogue—now widely shared through a network only in its infancy the last time they left us.
In the length of their hiatus, the slow, doomey post rock sound they helped define went from being largely emulated to receding back into the shadows. But these things work in cycles, and the band’s huge popularity amid no marketing is a testament to the cult-like draw of their meditative, politically-charged soundscapes. And as for the new incarnation, it sounds as if they’ve never left.
But a look at our social climate is a better indicator if it’s the right time for the return of Godspeed. When they last left us, the world was in a post-9/11 metamorphosis, troops moving into Iraq and the world as we know it heightening surveillance and its fear of terrorism exponentially. They captured the shuddering of the Earth to a new American imperialism, embodying a struggle rather than the acid-escapism of the previous generation’s anti-war music.
Today, evidence of things reaching a boiling point is seen in the past year’s numerous protests the world over. ‘Allelujah! comes on the heels of the Printemps Erable, an event tied to this record at many points, even though the record’s two longer tracks were written years before the latest incarnation of the Quebec student movement.
But its age is of little consequence to its meaning; the band has always been able to harness the feeling of a movement, social tectonic plates clashing under the fury of strings and guitars. These old songs have been recorded by the new Godspeed, and all the intensity remains. Context is added though soundbites and film strips, the listener filling the opus with meaning after being awakened by its call.
From the clanging of casseroles at the end of “Mladic” to the emulated helicopter sounds, ‘Allelujah! captures the incendiary force of regime change that flooded Quebec’s streets.
There is an audience, a force of individuals that want to move against the corporatization of education, the cutting up of our country for drilling and burning, serving primarily the interests of those in power—and maybe that’s the biggest indicator that the world is ready for the return of Godspeed. Both the soundtrack and the revolution are in our hands.