Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet, and Other Distress

Asunder, Sweet, and Other Distress. However brilliant Godspeed’s back catalog is, Asunder is a completely new level of intensity and craft. Like riding a roller coaster or chasing a tornado, Asunder brings excitement and joy, mixed wit the sheer terror that if somethings goes wrong, you’re doomed. It’s the nervous butterflies in your stomach feeling that this album will give you. Peace and relief mixed with unease.

What I hate about Asunder; it’s too short. In fact, it’s the shortest GY!BE record ever. The band makes good use of their time, but when I record is this good, you always want more.

My initial response to Peasantry Or ‘Light! Inside Of Light!’, the album’s opener, was “hot damn!” Godspeed has always been a band about building and creating layers. The slow moving epic Storm from Lift Yr Skinny Fist to Heaven or 09-15-00 (Part 1) from Yanqui U.X.O. Even Mladic from ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! took it’s time (nearly 10 minutes) before blasting your speakers with a crescendo. Maybe GY!BE knew that. Fans would be cranking up the volume on their stereos so they wouldn’t miss any subtle sounds or details important to the record. Instead, Godspeed drops a bomb of horns and screeching guitars right out of the gate. No building of tension and sound. You’re instantly thrown into the chaos. Peasantry is both beautiful and destructive. The beauty takes it’s time to pop up through the cacophony of sounds and lives in harmony and tension with the harshness. The melody is prominent and captivating. You almost forget about the guitars pounding on feedback in the background. As the whole band breaks free and joins the melody in unison, you the listener just sit back and enjoy. 10 minutes of pure joy!

Lambs’ Breath replaces that joy with instant unease. Dark and ominous, like getting lost in a cave. Just 9 minutes of dark ambience growing, dying, reappearing in a different form, and dying again. It’s as if the band gave so much of themselves into Peasantry that Lambs’ Breath is a silent recovery.

If Lambs’ Breath is the recovery, Asunder, Sweet is the gaining of strength. As the final note of Lambs’ Breath carries over, Asunder, Sweet slowly builds the bed from which Piss Crowns Are Trebled will rise.

There’s a disturbing atmosphere when the strings on Piss Crowns start. GY!BE loves and plays with the tension, letting it just fill the air until the band finally comes together on the same page and offers up on of the most beautiful melodies you’ve ever heard. But the band just can’t finish finish out the record on a beautiful note. There’s a catch in the air and the melody shifts into something a little more violent, only for a short time, before the bands plays off the beauty in the midst of chaos theme that they do so well.

Asunder, Sweet, And Other Distress is an album. It’s like a piece of classical work. It’s one continuous piece of music. You can’t listen to the songs out of context because it makes very little sense if you do. I’ve been a fan of Godspeed You! Black Emperor for a long time, and I can honestly say this might be my favorite work from the band! 5 out of 5 Stars.

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