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GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR

Post Rock/Math rock • Canada


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Godspeed You! Black Emperor biography
GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR! is an experimental nine-piece from Montreal, Canada that specializes in semi-avant-garde instrumental music of haunting beauty. They've released five discs of music, with a grand total of eleven pieces of music, so you know they can write some extended ideas. Formed in 1995, GYBE! consists of Roger Tellier-Craig (guitar), Norsola Johnson (cello), Efrim Menuck (guitar), Mauro Pezzente (bass), David Bryant (guitar), Thierry Amar (bass), Sophie Trudeau (violin), Aidan Girt (percussion), and Bruce Cawdron (percussion). GYBE!'s music should probably be described as long, dark, moody, and brilliant. Their sound was once compared to TANGERINE DREAM, except that GYBE! uses no keyboards. They paint a similar sonic texture to TANGERINE DREAM, but they do it using cello, violin, upright bass, and three guitars, rather than synths. In fact, GYBE! is very organic, often bringing in spoken word samples, as well as glockenspiel.

GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR!'s best album is arguably the double-disc "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven". It consists of four 20 minutes pieces. "Yanqui U.X.O." is also an excellent album, having two 20 minute tracks and a 30 minute track. GYBE!'s other albums are "f#a#infinity" and "Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada."

GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR! is highly recommended for prog fans as Kraut Rock, epic-length experimental, or anyone looking for something a little different to sink their ears into.

BrainRock Ben, USA



See also:
- A Silver Mt. Zion
- Fly Pan Am
- Set Fire To Flames
- Valley Of The Giants
- Exhaust
- HṚṢṬA

Godspeed You! Black Emperor official website

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Luciferian TowersLuciferian Towers
Constellation 2017
Audio CD$8.95
$13.91 (used)
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven [Vinyl]Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven [Vinyl]
Constellation 2010
Vinyl$20.93
$45.17 (used)
Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress (180 Gram Vinyl)Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress (180 Gram Vinyl)
Constellation 2015
Vinyl$20.60
$12.55 (used)
'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
CONSTELLATION 2012
Audio CD$11.47
$5.99 (used)
Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada [Vinyl]Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada [Vinyl]
Constellation 2010
Vinyl$14.68
$14.99 (used)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor: F_A_° (1995-1997) Vinyl LPGodspeed You! Black Emperor: F_A_° (1995-1997) Vinyl LP
Constellation
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Song of the Silent LandSong of the Silent Land
Constellation 2004
Audio CD$11.81
$5.74 (used)
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GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.07 | 370 ratings
F# A# ∞
1997
4.13 | 495 ratings
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
2000
3.97 | 286 ratings
Yanqui U.X.O.
2002
3.67 | 140 ratings
Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
2012
3.71 | 89 ratings
Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
2015
4.13 | 43 ratings
Luciferian Towers
2017

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.40 | 5 ratings
All Lights Fucked On The Hairy Amp Drooling
1994
3.20 | 5 ratings
Split (ft. Amazezine)
1998
4.42 | 179 ratings
Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada E.P.
1999
3.33 | 3 ratings
Tiny Silver Hammers
2004

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.13 | 43 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by villageglobal

5 stars After many listens, this is an amazing album. They project the word Hope in their live performances, and this is what this album sounds like. The 6 minutes or so drone pieces are huge walls of sounds, but less electronic than the ones on Asunder or Allelujah.

The violin takes a lot of place and builds beautiful melodies. The longer 14 minutes pieces are great too and are pretty catchy, I often find myself humming the melodies sometimes. Bosses hang gets a bit repetitive after a while, but not enough to make the song boring.

It's always a pleasure to discover new Godspeed material, this isn't my favorite album but it feels fresh and hopeful.

 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.71 | 89 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by thesameoldfears

4 stars As others have pointed out, this album starts and ends with a bang, and the two middle tracks are more experimental/drone without any established melodies.

For the longest time I didn't know how to rate this album, but four stars out of five seems about right. The first time I heard this album was when I saw Godspeed! live in late 2013. They had been playing this piece in its entirety on tour before actually releasing it in 2015. When I heard it live I remember I thinking the middle section dragged on a bit, but the end was so startling and powerful that it made it worth the buildup.

Conceptually this album is very interesting because it's basically the whole thing is one big decrescendo, followed by one big crescendo. In Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light! you have all 8 musicians all playing very loud, dense, and fairly melodic music, but then as it goes into Lambs' Breath it slowly sheds each of these qualities and unravels to the point where it's just a single tone ringing for about 2 minutes. This single tone connects Lambs' Breath to Asunder, Sweet. The process then reverses itself as the single tone is joined by other strange sounds in Asunder, Sweet, which keeps building and building. By the time you get to Piss Crowns are Trebled the sound is extremely intense, exploding into a bang of a conclusion.

Piss Crowns Are Trebled is one of my favorite Godspeed! tracks. The dense instrumentation and loud angsty energy really pushes the listener to the max, but at also feels kind of uplifting despite its heaviness. The thrilling closing of Piss Crowns Are Trebled packs more of a punch when you've heard the meandering of Lambs' Breath and Asunder, Sweet before it, though many listeners will want to skip over these middle tracks. Interestingly, when I saw Godspeed! live a second time, when they played this album the two middle tracks were significantly shorter than on the studio album. That may have been a good choice as far as the audience's patience goes. Hard to say. Either way, what we have here is a very interesting artistic statement. It's a little too uneven to be a five star album, but the finale Piss Crowns Are Trebled is a prog epic for the ages.

 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.13 | 43 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The latest Godspeed You Black Emperor! album continues the trend of "Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress" to go for a terse single LP length for Godspeed album releases, with four songs ranging from about 6 to 14 minutes. Whereas Asunder, Sweet consisted of two conventional Godspeed compositions as bookends and improvised jams in the middle, here the psychedelic and garage rock primal DNA is integrated more into the compositions themselves, yielding an album which combines the stateliness and emotional power of classic Godspeed with the raw energy that A Silver Mt. Zion consistently captures and which the improvisational tracks on Asunder, Sweet tap into.

There's also more of an air of hopefulness on Luciferian Towers than in previous Godspeed works. Whilst recent releases had backed away a little from the unrelenting pessimism of their earliest work, here the album ends on a positively triumphant note. It's a strong return to form after the experimentation of Asunder, Sweet and proves that there's still gas in the Black Emperor's tank.

 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.71 | 89 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress is a Godspeed album which might trip up even long-time listeners of the band; the opening and closing tracks are masterful post-rock compositions of the standard we have come to expect from the Canadian unit, but the middle two tracks get a certain amount of flak, being as they are wild improvisational jams.

The trick to remember is that this is how the Godspeed live experience works - it's a side to their sound which they haven't gone out of their way to include on their studio albums before, but I think it works as a wild interlude between the two major pieces. The improvisations in question aren't brilliant as standalone pieces, mind - but then again, Godspeed have always put together albums which go best as integral listening experiences in their own right, rather than bits to shuffle into a playlist at random.

 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.13 | 43 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by loulou24

5 stars I know a lot of people will hate this album. Many will claim that there's no element to the godspeed sound and other will say that they're old, too happy and can't make a great album like lift your skinny fist anymore. LT is no way like lift your skinny fist or F#A# but it 's even so one of the best albums of the year.

It is the first new compositions of the band since 2003 (alleluiah and assunder includes old works before the split up). More happier and shorter stuff is happening and it's great. There is call back themes (bosses hang, fam famine) which never happens in any GY!BE albums. A Morricone-like feel (Anthem for no state) and a happy ending.

I am enjoying to hear futur release from this awesome band that is really progressive.

 Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada E.P. by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
4.42 | 179 ratings

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Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada E.P.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Recorded in between F#A# and Lift Yer Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven...(LYSFLATH), this half-hour EP sounds just like one might expect it to sound, given those two albums. Here we have two extended pieces that start very quiet with beautiful guitar melodies and violin harmonies that build slowly to a climax and back, overlaid with street noises, and broken into multiple sections that maintain listener interest. There is a street poet that must have been recorded in Rhode Island that features both here and on LYSFLATH, to generally good effect. The first track "Moya" is the standout, and has featured for years as part of their live set (must be named after Mike Moya, one of the composers). But the second track, often shortened to BBF, is also excellent, and very close in quality to Moya. More refined and efficient than F#A#, Slow Riot is an obvious must-have for any GYBE fan. It is similar in style, although not perhaps quite as musical, as their masterpiece (LYSFLATH). I give this album 8.5 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.
 Yanqui U.X.O. by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.97 | 286 ratings

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Yanqui U.X.O.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Walkscore

4 stars The Second-Best GYBE Album.

This double album (shortened to 77 minutes for the CD) is a huge musical accomplishment. It contains some of GYBE's most original and innovative music, in their whole catalogue. However, it is largely missing the street noises and voice-overs that characterized the first three albums (I include Zero Riot in those). This is both a curse, in that those additional tapes added a welcome emotional and political layer to their sound, and a blessing in that one can now thus really focus on the music itself. Some reviewers don't seem to like this album as much as some of the others. I think this is because of two things: a) the missing street noises and tapes, which we all had come to love, and b) the first song here, titled 09-15-00 (broken into two parts), which is quite slow and lasts 20 minutes. I can easily see someone wanting to zip through this album to provide a review, and getting bogged down in that first song, and perhaps not fully listening to the rest of the tracks. If so, this would be a shame, because the third track, Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls, and the fourth and fifth tracks (part I and II of M-F-Redeemer) are so highly original, different, and musical. There is nothing quite like them, either recorded by GYBE or any other band - they stand as testaments to the bands' significant musicality and creativity. Only a couple of pieces on LYSF match them in quality. The first song (09-15-00) is musical too, but involves the slowest and weakest tracks on the album, though I still quite like them. But one can't listen to this album just once and make up an opinion. It needs a number of full open-minded listens. For anyone who is interested in this band, I highly recommend this album. I give it 8.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which places it as (high) 4 PA stars. Close to 5 Stars.

 F# A# ∞ by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.07 | 370 ratings

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F# A# ∞
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Walkscore

4 stars I Open My Wallet...

The first full-length album from GYBE sets the pattern for their subsequent albums, with their post-apocalyptic soundscapes and slow build-ups from quiet as a whisper to thundering to quiet again. But this album has something that other GYBE albums don't really have - a poem that is, effectively, lyrics. Other GYBE albums put street noises, bustlers, radio broadcasts, and street poets over top of the music. But the very first track here "Dead Flag Blues (intro") is extra special. Over top of dramatic string music, one of the band members recites a poem that fits well with their general message and atmosphere. I think this is one of their very best tracks, ever. The rest of the album is essentially instrumental, with the usual street noises, etc, and although the CD version is a bit long (the CD contains extra music, and extra/extended noise-tracks), the music here is excellent. "East Hastings" is one of their most powerful pieces of music, and a key part of their live show (when I have seen them, they have closed their concert with this piece). It is named after the main street in Canada's poorest and most distressing neighbourhood, the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood in Vancouver (although the band itself is from Montreal). Other key pieces include "Sad Mafioso" and "Dead Metheny", both of which also have featured in their live sets. But it is the intro to Dead Flag Blues that gets me, every time. The only flaw here is that this album is slow, slower than their other albums. The CD version is particularly long. But I still think it is worth it to get the CD. I give this album 8.3 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which puts it in the 4 PA star realm.

 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.71 | 89 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Walkscore

4 stars This album is better than their predecessor 'Allelujah! Don't Bend Ascend'. It remains rooted in the harder style noted on 'Mladic' (the best composition from that album), but on this one the entire album flows together much better. Indeed, although the album is broken into four tracks, they are all part of one long composition (the formerly-named 'Behemoth', mentioned by the other reviewers). I have seen this composition performed live, and it works very well in that setting. I think it works slightly less well on the album, mainly because it starts so starkly with the two drummers hammering a loud 6/8 beat for a few bars, followed by the entrance of electric guitar power chords. That is, the album doesn't start quietly like their other albums, building to a crescendo. On this one, they begin at (or close to) the crescendo. I find the first two (of the four) tracks less musical than the last two, but those last two (the second half of the long piece) are definitely worth waiting for. The third track involves improvised droning, and a particular delight is the fuzz bass (providing evocations of Soft Machine - one of my very favourite bands - and the Cantebury scene in general - indeed, parts of the third track sound like they almost could have come out of SM live recordings from their 'Fourth' and 'Fifth' periods). On this album and the predecessor, GYBE do not feature nearly as many beautiful quiet passages as their pre-break albums, nor the many sound effects, radio/tv snippets, street noises, talking, etc that added political and emotional weight to their (otherwise instrumental) music. When they play live, they are always accompanied by visuals, which add this weight in that live setting. I am not sure this particular album needs them, but the previous one ('Allejuh...') surely could have used them. Overall, I give this album 8.0 out of 10 (on my 10-point scale) and so PA 4 stars.
 Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.13 | 495 ratings

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Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Walkscore

5 stars This, for me, is GYBE's masterpiece, and one of my favourite albums. The band is quite unique in incorporating a very critical punk ethos into otherwise very beautiful, slow building instrumental music. The band, and this album, is as other reviewers here note, non-conformist and, I would add, totally uncompromising (indeed, one of the reasons I love this band so much is that they very clearly never compromise their music, you either like or not. And they keep pushing the boundaries of music. They are, for me, a band of the highest musical integrity). And unlike most instrumental music, this album conveys a powerful political and emotional message. As noted by others, this is music somehow predicting, and written for, a post-apocalyptic world. And it unusual in being instrumental music that makes you think. I think it sets a certain archetypical standard against which any other post-rock (and other so-called post-apocalyptic music) might be compared.

I am writing this review more than ten years after picking up this album and listening to it a gazillion times, and unlike other albums which eventually lose their shine after multiple listens, this one keeps growing on me, drawing me in. It all fits together very well, and even when one has to listen through white noise or other harsh sounds, those work well in pulling you through the transitions between pieces. While there is no normal singing, there are occasional other recorded vocal noises (including interviews with people recorded on busy city streets, recordings of school children, etc), and other low-fi sound bites (there is one recording of a band member singing 'baby-o' but that is one of these low-fi snippets). These help glue the music together and bolster its critical ethos. But it is really the music that stands out. The title track ("Lift yer Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven") is one of the band's most beautiful and majestic pieces of music, and one that also works very well live. Gathering Storm is actually their version of Amazing Grace, but with a twist, lending some reflexive emotional weight to the whole album. World Police and Friendly Fire is perhaps a definitive GYBE composition, and also works very well live.

On the whole, the album stands the test of time. It is highly original, powerful, and musically maintains its emotional weight even after multiple years of listening. I would highly recommend giving this album multiple listens before coming to any conclusions. The first times I listened to it, I had a hard time cognitively mapping it, but over time its structure and heft became evident. This is, in my opinion, in a select list of the top 50 albums every made. This one is worth it.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to harmonium.ro for the last updates

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