Friday, October 5, 2012

Godspeed You! Black Emperor Concert Review

Godspeed You! Black Emperor on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill, NC

After listening to F# A# Infinity on vinyl and looking over some faulty schematics to a ruined machine at my cousin's apartment I was in a GY!BE mood. We ate at a pub across the street from Cat's Cradle at the same time the band did. Efrim, Sophie and co. walked in while we were having a nice talk about measuring the worth of science. They ate at a booth adjacent to us and out of eyesight though, and we didn't bother them on the way out.

I bought the 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! LP as soon as we walked in the venue, as the merch guy told us it was probable they'd sell out before the show finished. Other merch they had included 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! and "God's pee" t-shirts. I talked to some UNC kids, met up with some friends, sat through a monotonous opening band's set, then hung out for about thirty more minutes (at least, probably more like forty-five) while Godspeed set up, and then Hope Drone started and one by one the members came out on stage.

"Hope" started flashing on the projection screen in scratchy font, like it always does.  

My good friend standing beside me said, "it's an Obama ad."
"Hope" flashing was followed by images of trains, dead bodies, decayed buildings, etc.  

Lineup in attendance:

David Bryant

Efrim Menuck
Mike Moya
Sophie Trudeau
Thierry Amar
Mauro Pezzente
Aidan Girt
Tim Herzog (of NC's Black Skies)


1. Hope Drone

2. Mladic
3. "Murray Ostril" ...They Don't Sleep Anymore on the Beach
4. Monheim
[a shit ton of new stuff I didn't recognize and long drone interludes, some of which easily could have been "Their Helicopters' Sing" and "Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable"]
8. The Sad Mafioso

There were at least three songs in between Monheim and The Sad Mafioso, none of which were on any of their albums, along with a ton of drone material. They're calling one song "Behemoth" on but I don't even know what that is so I'm not putting it in this set. They played for about two and a half hours.

A lot of that new stuff, according to my cousin who's a music guru, was atonal and used eastern scales (which I could never pick up by ear). There was one song in between all the droning that was really good - it seemed like a typical Godspeed song that built up over fifteen or so minutes and reached a massive climax. Of course when the Murray Ostril recording came on, and when Efrim played the opening notes to A Sad Mafioso, the crowd went wild. Cat's Cradle was sold out. Godspeed has become more popular probably than they ever wanted to be.

After the show Efrim was outside the venue talking to some folks and my cousin and I went and asked him what kind of literature he was inspired by. The only answer we got was "The Savage Detectives" by Roberto Bolano.

Slow moving trains and blueprints of drilling rigs

Monday, October 1, 2012

Overmars' Born Again

Born Again
is the 2007 follow up release to 2005's Affliction, Endocrine…Vertigo, and very different in structure. It's one massive track at 39:26 in length.

Envision a girl - the same one personified in Affliction, Endocrine…Vertigo who easily could have met her maker in the depths below. Only envision she didn't meet her maker and she's returned for another bout of possibly life-terminating exaltations. She's seeking adrenaline to prevent depression; balancing apprehension with ecstasy. This time she's free climbing a mountain - a cliff - and coming to a point where she can climb no further (what a mountain climber would refer to as a "crux"). It's a difficult place in the climb, where the climber, typically solo, must perform a set of moves in dynamic motion to move forward or grab a hold of what would otherwise be out of reach. The lyrics in the song are the thoughts running through the climber's head as she comes to terms with her situation and the possible fate that awaits her. I’m close to dying a thousand times, but this time I allowed myself to cry…. If she stays where she is her only possible fate is death. Or, she could confront her fears and continue to climb, and possibly save herself.

Arms in a cross, ready to absorb the shock.
I just know I can’t go lower.
There is no under.
Just me, myself and I.
And the will to stay or to climb.

Or… the lyrics could be symbolizing an unborn child's attempt to escape from the womb. Playing disturbing footage of stillbirths, among other things, on makeshift projection screens made of bed sheets at their live shows, Overmars has a strange fascination with parturition. In addition to an exhilarating stint of free climbing, the lyrics also describe metaphoric birth, which makes the footage relevant.

Seeing the plague’s face taking shape doesn’t scare me anymore.
Seeing the plague coming out of my wounds liberates me.
Listen to the screams coming out of my wounds, free from the plague.
Listen to the screams coming out of the hole, holding the sound of joy and pleasure.
Listen to my screams announcing the birth of a new man.

The light is brighter from the dark. The latter is likely the band's intended meaning, but that's the beautiful thing about lyrics. You can interpret them as you wish. Avoiding sudden antenatal death syndrome, is a child born? Or has a mountain climber tamed her trepidations and transcended to start life anew in what could be interpreted as essentially a bizarre allegory?

The profuseness of exuberant emotion flowing from the vocal performance of Mrs. Marion Leclercq is perhaps, for its brief seven minute duration, unparalleled by any other female vocalist in all of metal. What she accomplishes here is nothing short of brilliant.  It might not even be correct to call it "singing," but it's sure passionate. The hate, the anger, the agitation, emanates from her and spews forth as if she's actually a subject in whatever situation she is portraying. Her screams are downright scary, and her cleans echo and reverberate as though she's crying out from the loneliest chambers of Hell, forced to face her fears and hoping someone will hear.  And we do!  We hear her loud and clear.  Here she is in Austria on Overmars' European tour in April of '06:

This isn't music you want to play in a car on a date (I know from experience). The first time listener's reaction to sitting though the opening ten minutes of this track is typically one of pure horror. Oddly, the climax comes near the beginning of the song instead of the end. 
The first fifteen minutes are the best of the track. Eerie electronic noises, growled and soaring vocals, and thick pounding riffs form a sound that's distinct and easily recognizable as Overmars'. As the track progresses it drones, and the despair becomes almost overwhelming. Of all the songs in this band's brief discography, this one is the heaviest. It's unabridged doom. It's one of the heaviest albums ever recorded, competing with the likes of Electric Wizard's Dopethrone, SunO)))'s ØØ Void, Godflesh's Streetcleaner, and EyeHateGod's Dopestick. Born Again is a giant monolith of crushing doom and relentless noise. 
Walls of sound flatten listeners, who might be begging for death before the end. Or hemorrhaging one.

Originally written as a review for Sputnik Music: