With the release of “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” Godspeed You! Black Emperor has ended a decade–long span without an album, reasserting their lofty position on the post–rock totem pole. As with the rest of their work, the album is dominated by long periods of experimental ambience punctuated by periods of driven melody. The first two tracks, which together total up to 25 minutes, feature sounds inspired by the Near East, while trance–like riffage and soaring guitar screams on “We Drift Like Worried Fire” serve as reminders of GYBE’s indie rock roots.
Despite its ambient label, most people wouldn’t want to put on “Allelujah!” as some nice background music while chopping garlic for dinner. The songs are intense, dark and require that you’re in the mood for a few 20–minute songs. If that’s not you, understood. If intellectually demanding post–rock instrumentals are your cup of tea, however, “Allelujah!” will doubtlessly please. Each track is rich, cohesive yet varied and beautifully arranged. The melodies captivate by virtue of their rarity. GYBE is back, and for fans of the genre, it’s been a long time coming.