It wouldn’t be a new record from post-rock’s most overtly political band without a damning press release that blasts social injustice and demands revolution. ‘An end to foreign invasions. An end to borders. The total dismantling of the prison-industrial complex. Healthcare, housing, food and water acknowledged as an inalienable human right. The expert fuckers who broke this world never get to speak again.’ Given the sheer strength of such powering words, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this sets up Godspeed You! Black Emperor for their most furious album yet. Whilst the sound is vast and menacing in stature,Luciferian Towers lacks the abrasive power that made their debut such an authoritative record.
Godspeed aimed for ‘wrong notes that explode’, which is immediately evident on the throbbing opener. Like most songs on the record, “Undoing a Luciferian Tower” focuses on a simple hook, made to stir with support from a rousing arrangement that is sometimes sombre, and sometimes uplifting. The truth is that not every note that explodes is necessarily ‘wrong’, and the music can border on rousing film composition. It’s far from generic, but still a little tame for Godspeed’s usual standards. Their anger is more controlled than ever, and as a result this is a far easier listen than most of their earlier work, but not necessarily as rewarding. Nevertheless, Luciferian Towers is a fine record, and will almost certainly scratch any post-rock itch one might have. The album’s final stretch, “Anthem for No State” is a glorious conclusion that I particularly recommend.
7 out of 10
‘Apocalyptic’ is a word often thrown Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s way — and with good reason — but it doesn’t apply here. Luciferian Towers is a different animal, its tone righteousness and fury rather than rumination. The group’s famed ruinous tint is present, but it’s in service of a more redemptive project. There’s a discipline to Luciferian Towers that’s deeply affecting; a controlled, raging anarchy.
Restless and powerful. There are no lulls here. In the spaces between the fury there are things weightless and beautiful. Guitars and drums and strings roar and sing, and horns rise to the sun. This is a world away from pensive wanderings of F♯ A♯ ∞. I’m thankful for the existence of both, but Luciferian Towers is purposeful in ways most of the post-rock albums we’ve listened to are not.
There’s something carnivalesque about the record. Its irreverence, its livid hope, the simultaneity of strength and impermanence. Opener “Undoing a Luciferian Towers”, with shades of the matador, promises a grotesque and glorious showdown, and that’s what the record delivers. The guitars on “Bosses Hang” are like a stampede. The violins throughout are dances in fire. The finale of “Anthem for No State” — and so of the album as a whole — is a triumph.
I’m quite smitten with Luciferian Towers. It isn’t perfect, but it is wonderful. The power of post-rock is so often delivered in a teasing, glancing blow kind of way, so it’s exhilarating to hear a group like Godspeed really leather something. I should mention that I thought all this before reading the band’s manifesto and accompanying notes. You don’t need to agree with Godspeed’s grand demands to enjoy Luciferian Towers… though I dare say it helps.
9 out of 10
My knowledge of Godspeed You! Black Emperor prior to my first listen of Luciferian Towers was incredibly limited. Despite the best efforts of a close friend at university, I hadn’t managed to sit through an entire record — intimidated, perhaps, by the 20-minute runtimes of their tracks.
Luciferian Towers, in rebuke of that intimidation, feels like a comparatively digestible experience. Ironically, both “Bosses Hang” and “Anthem for No State” play through their respective triads of parts with no distinctive breaks between them, rendering their compartmentalisation fairly superficial, and retaining the band’s characteristic penchant for the long haul.
The ponderous nature of the album’s composition, with walls of deliberately engineered white noise extending over minutes at a time, has a dissociative impact on my consciousness that wholly trivialises my sense of duration. The harsh introductions of tempo shifts alongside interruptions of its melodies shook me immediately from the stupor that Luciferian Towers repeatedly lulled me into. The emotional awakening is simultaneously satisfying and jarring, and the steady build to its demi-crescendos never felt laborious.
The naming of its tracks invites you into a narrative that barely exists within the album itself. Luciferian Towers’ major achievement, for me, is in the willingness with which you’ll fill in the gaps for yourself, drawing lines between its signposts as it rolls through sonic aesthetics lifted from Scottish Highlands and the streets of dusty towns in the Old West.
In spite of its moodiness and sombre demeanour, the album’s general sense of victory and triumph over that darkness never feels absent. The record, throughout, evoked a rising sun in my mind, with shadows peeling away as each track marched onwards, leaving me in a state of peace long after its final screech.
8 out of 10