Review Summary: A Silver Mt. Something give up on any pre-conceived album structure yet again, but what evolves from paper to sound is a definite year-end contender.
On Kollaps Tradixionales
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra is scoring its sixth horror flick. Or so it’s easiest to imagine: reluctant though Efrim Menuck may be to assign his band rules, it’s easy to argue for the sentiment of fear that he brings release after release. It’s as if - unlike other post-rock visual montages about the government and its sticky aftermath - we expect to see a zombie (albeit a politically fuelled zombie) tear onto the scene as violin soars through the song's or album’s climax. On Kollaps Tradixionales
I think this happens half way into “I Fed My Metal Bird The Wings Of Other Metal Birds” with some old-fashioned blasts of drums and guitars, and the Canadians are running away for the remainder of the record.
This is said not to reflect and criticise the pretentious nature of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s version two – that is a realised necessity by this time, with album titles such as “This Is Our Punk-Rock”, Thee Rusted Satellites Gather and Sing
not exactly asking to be rationalised. It is more an attempt to show Thee Silver Mt. Zion for what they are – an atmosphere band. Menuck has a handful of methods to create the sadness that runs through each of his recordings, and each prove the same eerie results: on He Has Left Us Alone
for instance, choirs would hum and howl (the incredible “13 Angels Standing Guard ‘round the Side Of Your Door”) without ever actually saying anything that complemented the general, er, woe. On Born into Trouble
they screamed through orchestral arrangements such as in “Take These Hands and Throw Them In The River”, and it was just as creepy. And on “This Is Our Punk-Rock”
, that choir divided and spoke gruffly - but clearly - at one another ‘til sore on “Starsnostars”. Whether or not the band are making a statement as in the later two, or just crooning for the sake of crooning, they rarely sound any more than desperate about something.
is neither a coming together of all that nor an entirely new sound, but rather a bit of both that covers yet another dimension that won’t put listeners at ease. The group’s orchestral signature is certainly in effect here, but so too is there noise, and abrasive noise at that. That noise plays deceptive tricks: on “Kollapz Tradixional (Thee Olde Dirty Flag)” it is reserved and in the vein of the group, strums spread vaguely but aggressively through the track. By “Kollaps Tradicional (Bury 3 Dynamos)” though, Menuck’s troupe effectively remembers what it once was worth in climax, and again they amplify the apocalypse: the guitars are messy and face off with one another and anything that gets in the way. And hey, maybe Menuck is just pitting prog versus punk for the sake of it, but Kollaps Tradixionales
holds, along with this masterpiece, some of the band’s best build-ups, built only to turn into better explosions.
Menuck’s voice has been attached to that of a sheep for so long and so relentlessly that Kollaps Tradixionales
may just be an attempt at breakaway from arguments as tireless as they come, and mostly about vocal coaches. Through the ‘punkier’ sound of Kollaps Tradixionales
, however, his voice gets more outspoken than ever before in the band’s history, and just as well its treatment is to be buried under rubble. While even on its own that metaphor is suitably “post-rock”, Menuck’s voice truly produces some of the astronomical (and epic, disproportionate, intense, etc) heights of the album. His drones at the end of “‘Piphany Rambler” do enough to sum up the album as the beast it is, as do his equally passionate bouts in “I Built Myself A Metal Bird” and its mini-conclusion “I Fed My Metal Bird The Wings Of Other Metal Birds”. What his vocals lack in musicianship they make up for in knowing a thing or two about catchiness - in actual fact, Menuck’s voice could be the band’s most conventional aspect – break it down and you have another bearded guy who sounds shockingly close to an atonal edition of Tim DeLaughter fresh from exuberant choir sessions with the Polyphonic Spree, balloons et all – at that comparison, it’s a wonder his band can produce music so starkly frightening as “I Built Myself A Metal Bird”, and album after album at that.
does not break any of the band's accidental absolutes: the songs are scattered in length and thought and probably have less to say than they warn they do. What it does do is shake things up once again, and in the same way that 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons
needed five-second one-liners to separate it from previous releases, the group’s 2010 effort certainly earns the name change I doubt anyone wanted. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra still keep me listening, and for Kollaps Tradixionales
hybrid that resolves in punk, I say Menuck can keep the gimmicks, permitted he doesn’t stop the fear-mongering.