Monday, January 27, 2014

Album Review: Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything

Album Rating: A
A band with a name like Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra can only sound this way. Ethereal, spiritual, and at times thematic, the Canadian experimental group swells and succeeds once again on their seventh studio album. Being as a bit of a lesser known side project to the critically acclaimed Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion differ in one key aspect. They feature vocals from band leader Efrim Menuck. Also focusing on a more string and orchestral feel than GYBE, Thee Silver Mt. Zion are completely different entity that deserves all the praise and respect of Godspeed You! On Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything, the band produces another full-length, emotional roller coaster of sound and energy. The record is everything that one would want from the band, and may be their strongest effort yet.

Fuck Off Get Free... can easily be considered a fully representative picture of Thee Silver Mt. Zion as a whole. Throughout its six tracks, the record takes you on a journey along a spiraling and mesmerizing path, through mountains of experimental punk to depths of gloomy minimalistic slow core. The band kicks off the disc with the roaring, distorted string section taking the helm, leading the title track on its way. Here the band displays their unique version of experimental punk rock, featuring orchestral strings, combined with driving drums and discordant guitars. Menuck's vocals are  pleading as usual, treading the line between singing and howling closely, but always on the brink of emotional dismay. Thee Silver Mt. Zion's lyrics are known for being closely tied to politics and worldly issues, and there is no difference here. Songs discuss their native Canada, and even expand into general human code.

At only six songs in length, Fuck Off Get Free contains a few drawn out tracks to fulfill its LP status. The aforementioned title track is only the first one, and "Austerity Blues" follows immediately, also  being the longest song on the album. While it may not be any new territory for the band, it's a track that can be welcomed easily into their catalogue. "Take Away These Early Grave Blues" comes crashing in next, with it's powerful and driving energy, making it very reminiscent of "I Built Myself a Metal Bird," from 2010's Kollaps Tradixionales. During these pseudo-punk tracks Thee Silver Mt. Zion define themselves and truly separate any comparison that says they are "just" a side-project of Godspeed You!

"Little Ones Run" delivers some breathing room next, letting the listener's ears relax over light piano and haunting vocals, and it serves as a prelude to the epic and heartbreakingly emotional "What We Loved Was Not Enough." Previously released as two tracks on an EP in 2012, the song sees new life here in a sort of remastered, rerecorded version that exceeds the original significantly. Building upon itself over its 11 minute timeframe, the song reaches an emotional boiling point where it overflows with beautiful sounds and longing vocals. Being such a highpoint on the album, it overshadows the gloomy closer, "Rains Thru The Roof at Thee Grand Ballroom (For Capital Steez)," which plays more like an outro than anything.

Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything can easily be seen as a definitive experience of Thee Silver Mt. Zion. It contains every aspect that defines the unique group, and finds the band at some of their highest highs. As swiftly as it came, the album has the opposite in staying power. The LP is one that will stick around in my mind for some time, and is hopefully just the beginning of an exciting 2014.

Track list:

1. Fuck Off Get Free (For The Island of Montreal)
2. Austerity Blues
3. Take Away These Early Grave Blues
4. Little Ones Run
5. What We Loved Was Not Enough
6. Rains Thru The Roof at Thee Grand Ballroom (For Capital Steez)

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