Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada


5.0
classic

Review

by H. USER (119 Reviews)
July 22nd, 2014 | 208 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Let the darkness surround you.

There is dark.

Despite all that is going on in the background, the main focal point is the void of blackness circling around everything that exists in this spiral galaxy. There is a journey to embark on, but it is not one for the faint of heart or for those frightened by the absence of light. The darkness shrouds itself around all voyagers for twenty-eight minutes and thirty-six seconds before releasing its captors in a gigantic explosion of loud sound and pure bliss. Although the path taken to reach this euphoric end is long, murky and desolate, there are temporary moments of the elusive pale white brightness. Every nanosecond of the expedition is worth it, if only to experience such a flawlessly crafted atmosphere and a bombastic, earth-shattering ending. All hell breaks loose, the deafening sound of pounding drums and strings, yet all of it is built to rapture. When the madness begins to dissipate, the voyagers are always left wanting more, needing to recreate that blessed feeling of witnessing such perfection for the first time.

Although the journey is essentially divided into two separate sections, it would be borderline criminal not to experience both of them right after the other. There’s simply no way around it – in order to truly feel the massive impact that this whole voyage leaves upon its witnesses, there can be no separation of the two. It is absolutely seminal that once the darkness consumes you, there can be no letting go. As soon as the fields of desolation make their way into your consciousness, they must remain there, slowly building and building as the mind gradually explores the remnants of what used to be a thriving society. This twenty-eight minute, thirty-six second-long journey through the wastelands of tomorrow cannot be interrupted, and it cannot be experienced any other way. Most people lucky enough to fully live through it don’t even realize that there is a split, as the whole trip seems like one long, continuous experience, full of darkness, sorrow, anger, resentment and gloom. When the groundbreaking ending does occur, it’s the release of everything that has built up over the last half hour in such astounding fashion.

“I beheld the earth,
And, lo, it was waste and void;
And the heavens, and they had no light.”


There is no light to be found at the end of the tunnel – even when all the instruments have stopped gloriously crashing in a spectacular finale that brings to mind the sound of the world collapsing onto itself, the darkness still dominates. After the madness of the apocalypse had ensued, all that was left was absolutely nothing. The roars began to slowly decrease in sound and the wailing strings tragically begged for one last gasp of air before steadily dying out, but when every last ounce of the chaos died out and the rubble cleared, what emerged from the dust was complete silence. Nothing was left in the wake of Armageddon, just the sound of dead air.

How fitting.

Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada is an epic journey in the most definitive sense of the phrase. While others point to the gamechanging atmosphere provided in 1997’s F#A#∞ or the sinister aura exuded by 2000’s monstrous Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, the extended play released a year before the latter has always remained the definitive Godspeed You! Black Emperor release. It accomplishes everything the post-rock outfit does so flawlessly and seamlessly, being a shorter and easier listen than the a-bit-too-bloated Lift Your Skinny Fists while exuding more atmosphere and dark beauty compared to the extravagant F#A#∞. It’s always been a struggle to choose Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s greatest achievement, but everything that Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada accomplishes in its twenty-eight minute journey is absolutely flawless. Few albums can truly call themselves that, as there is almost always something missing, no matter how trivial or minute it may be. That’s not the case for Slow Riot, which keeps on going once the first note starts and never stops until dead silence follows its grandeur climax.

I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled,
And all the hills moved to and fro.
I beheld, and, lo, there was no man,
And all the birds of the heavens were fled.


Although Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada has two tracks, it’s so difficult to notice the track gap that the whole extended play might as well be one long thirty-minute song. The transition between tracks is so seamless and jointed that “BBF3” begins exactly where “Moya” left off, with all the strings and pounding instruments in the background carrying over without flaw. Everything flows together in the most impeccable fashion, the cohesion simply marrying both pieces until eternity. Of course, it is absolutely required that “Moya” be listened to first – all of the climax’s impact will be reduced to near nothing without the ten minutes of swooping crescendos, tragic sounding strings, twinkling bell chimes all building up for the epic finale. The two songs were engineered to be listened together and never separated, bound for the rest of time. Clocking in at twenty-eight minutes and thirty-six seconds, Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada is one of the shortest releases in Godspeed You! Black Emperor – in fact, some of the songs on Lift Your Skinny Fists are barely shorter than the whole EP. Despite its short length, Slow Riot still feels just as epic as its longer counterparts even if it reaches its climax in a more concise manner.

A loud buzzing is heard across the area, and the distant clattering of some sort of transportation device permeates the foreboding darkness. While the strings howl their cries of melancholy, the buzzing slowly fades into the surface, drowned out by the blowing of the wind. It is the true sound of a desolated earth, and all life has been thoroughly annihilated. The scene painted by the sweeping orchestral movement contains a blackened sky that has not seen daylight in over a year. The Earth is cold and deserted without the Sun, and all memories of a blue firmament have been erased from the minds of anyone who has survived the first Armageddon two years ago. Civilization is nonexistent – the only life left have resorted to a nomadic lifestyle in order to survive. Most of the world’s surface has weathered into plains, resembling a worldwide desert minus the sand. Light is mysteriously absent throughout the destroyed planet; not only has its natural producer been eradicated, but its man-made variant has also disappeared. The Earth’s surface is arid and dry, burnt to a crisp without any liquid sources available. Quiet consumes the world, with an eerie feeling looming over it every second of the day. As I walk through this mess, all I can see is the emptiness and drabness of what everything has come to. The loud rumbling of the earth gradually grows in volume before it becomes so loud, memories of the first apocalypse come back to mind. For a few minutes, all that is audible is the pounding of the world falling into itself, collapsing into its own core. Then it stops, and I fall into the exact darkness that I awoke to.

It’s amazing how detailed an atmosphere created by a few instruments can be, isn’t it?

Every little piece of “Moya” contributes to the formation of an ambiance that just feels so barren and hopeless. The pedal tone bass grimly sets our scene. The endless tugging of the violins adds an element of sadness to the picture, like the Earth weeping for one more chance at redemption. The ringing chimes start out calmly before they speed up over the hard pounding of the drums. Whenever the track’s tempo increases, so does the chaos and madness until it seems as if the Earth is splitting in two, tearing itself up from its insides, about to burst at the seams… and then it stops. The cries of the violins still remain, overjoyed at the fact that the second apocalypse had narrowly been avoided. Of course, there’s that sinister bassline that hides itself in the background behind the strings and bells, creeping up as soon as everything crescendos and keeping the haunting atmosphere intact. Every instrument plays such an important role to the mood conveyed in “Moya”, and when they all come together, the result is pure bliss. The speedy drum playing brings to mind increased tension, while the chimes’ ring simply offers a sliver of semi-optimism that may or may not exist. As they gradually come down from their high, the ominous bassline continues to bring to mind an empty field of dust, completely barren, completely useless, as it fades into the same deep blackness it brought upon itself in the first place.

I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful field was a wilderness,
And all the cities thereof were broken down
At the presence of the Lord.
And before His fierce anger.
For thus saith the Lord.


As the gloominess takes over me, I fade to black. Lying on the hard, dry dirt ground, the first thing that flickers on and off into my consciousness is an old interview I remember from a few years back. The man who failed to heed the warnings of the preacher man two years ago had been put on the mic to discuss a myriad of topics that lit his fuse that day. While the corrupt United States government, consisting of sneaky, deceitful liars and cheats that no one can trust was one of his main talking points, the event that riled him up the most was when a judge fined him for contempt of court after he expressed his annoyance at being lectured when all he wanted was to pay his speeding ticket fine and leave. As soon as I remember when man recalled the moment he said, “I’m not gonna take any shit”, a sense of darkness materialized in the pit of my stomach, and it gradually grew as the man went on about America has already manifested into a third world country. As the transmission of the man’s interview flickered off, my consciousness remained peaceful and calm, not thinking about all the darkness around me. Of course, that only lasted minutes before the screeching madness came again; luckily, it didn’t last that long this time around. It took some time before the feed came back into my cognizance, although this time the astute man eloquently read a poem he wrote detailing how the United States government was driving the country in a third world state. He was thanked for his time, and as soon as the broadcast of his interview faded out from my mind, only the blackness remained.

Although the conclusion to “Moya” is epic in its own right, its true purpose is to get the juices running and set a mood for the grand finale in “BBF3”. Named after Blaise Bailey Finnegan III, the man whose ramblings the second half of Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada is built upon, the use of audio clips perfectly complements the eerie ambiance that Godspeed You! Black Emperor craft in their depiction of post-apocalyptic hell. His interview is split into two sections, the first being a retelling of the time he lashed out at a judge for charging him with contempt of court and the second detailing a recital of his poem that heavily borrows from the Iron Maiden song “Virus”. His shallow, conceited diatribes offer a parallel to the ominous, post-apocalyptic aura generated by the instrumental section. A small crescendo and decrescendo separate the two, offering a small build before the grand finale. When Bailey finishes his groundbreaking statements, a piano starts to play, followed by the sudden eruption in sound from every instrument there is. This is it. Twenty-two minutes of builds, falls, darkness and light have led up to one of the best moments in music history.

The drums pick up, pounding hard every second with great furor. Cymbals crash and clang, their metallic sound bouncing off the edge of the Earth. The melody composed by the violin sounds like the true feeling of hopelessness, endlessly winding even in its final hours. The guitar distortion brings to mind true dementia, but it’s over just as it starts. The main riff buzzes through, viciously stabbing into the darkness, leading the way as it wails on and on. When the tempestuous attack of the drums collide with the orchestral, darkly symphonic string section, the two complement each other so flawlessly that the gloom mood is magnified tenfold. Everything comes together, the pieces melding in conjunction like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a loud, hectic, somber finish, but every single second of it is epic. Dashing through the finish line, it quickly comes to a halt as the instruments drop out and some distortion brings the grand finale to an end. In the three minutes remaining, the string section gradually comes back up, playing more sad melodies, bringing Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada to an end similarly to the way it began. All twenty-eight minutes are a perfect example of classic post-rock, featuring the best instrumental work in the genre. The crescendos, the builds, the atmosphere that Godspeed You! Black Emperor create is nothing short of pure genius.

A flurry of wind blows. It’s the only audible sound following the cataclysm that has just occurred. What used to be a barren, desolate wasteland is now a real-life depiction of Hell, with molten flames erupting out of fissures that were created in the combustion of Earth’s inner core. Before it had happened, there was a prevailing sense of calm in the surrounding air. Looking back at it now, that should have been a sign that something was wrong – anything other than despair and weariness was a false alarm. The rumbling happened slowly, but as it grew, everything shook. I awoke to the deafening sound of a terrestrial splintering. Cracks opened up in the surface, and it widened, closing in on me.
Scorching conflagrations shot out of one of them, while another had a seemingly bottomless pit. Running towards the latter, I prepared to leap over it before I stumbled over a rock and fell headfirst into the endless chasm. There was no escape from death this time around, but was I truly ready to accept my fate?

The wind continues to blow. There is still a sense of emptiness and despair in the atmosphere, but this time it seems even more eerie given the events that have just transpired. Slowly, the Earth weeps for its losses, with the same tragic aura that surrounded it before its self-implosion. Except now, the world feels even more barren and desolate, with only its song leading the way. The journey ends the same way it began, yet in a more solemn manner. Darkness still shrouds the area, but the feeling of experiencing the epic ride makes all of the caliginosity worth it. As soon as the old familiar mood begins, you have no choice but to let go and allow it to suck you into this region of isolation, filled with hectic hysteria and unwinding imbalance. There is no safety found in New Zerø Kanada. Just sit back, relax, strap yourself to your seat and enjoy the chaotic, dark, formless and empty but oh-so-euphoric ride.

I beheld the earth,
And, lo, it was waste and void;
And the heavens, and they had no light.
I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled,
And all the hills moved to and fro.
I beheld, and, lo, there was no man,
And all the birds of the heavens were fled.
I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful field was a wilderness,
And all the cities thereof were broken down
At the presence of the Lord,
And before His fierce anger.
For thus saith the Lord:
The whole land shall be desolate;
Yet will I not make a full end.


Has the darkness not surrounded you yet? Just wait. It’s all in your mind, it’s all in your head. Try to relate it.

You know you will.



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user ratings (1616)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Green Baron
July 22nd 2014


20327 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The big triple digit.

Feedback much appreciated, been working at this for days and nights. Experimented a bit and would love to await your suggestions.

Artuma
July 22nd 2014


16023 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

congrats for 100. also pos'd

Digging: Taake - Stridens hus

YakNips
July 22nd 2014


13229 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

review isnt long enough

Digging: Jordaan Mason - The Decline of Stupid Fucking Western Civilization

BMDrummer
July 22nd 2014


9979 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Congrats, good review

Veldin
July 22nd 2014


1646 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fuck, fine I'll go listen to this consecutively and enjoy it. Pos'd.

Green Baron
July 22nd 2014


20327 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Get that 4.5 outta here

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
July 22nd 2014


11805 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Maybe you could have shortened this a bit, but beautiful read nonetheless. Pos

Digging: Rishloo - Living as Ghosts with Buildings as Teeth

BigPleb
July 22nd 2014


37948 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

For someone your age Baron, you sure as hell can write.

Pos.

Digging: Arc Iris - Arc Iris

jefflebowski
July 22nd 2014


8257 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

about time this got a review, band needs more love on this site

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
July 22nd 2014


11805 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yea man seriously this is quite the masterful read. You ramble a bit at some points in this but you should be proud of this.

BMDrummer
July 22nd 2014


9979 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it would be a 5 if it was longer, sorry

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
July 22nd 2014


11805 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

But man, it's an EP lol it's not supposed to be long. For an EP and as a piece of music in general, this is nothing short of astounding.

Green Baron
July 22nd 2014


20327 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

the best Ep ever

BMDrummer
July 22nd 2014


9979 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed, but I don't like to 5 EPs personally. If I did, I would have a bunch of Black Flag 5s probably

n60storm
July 22nd 2014


33 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

is this the longest review on the site?

Green Baron
July 22nd 2014


20327 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is 2,690 words but I think there are more.

MM8's MoP review. That guy's X Japan review.

YakNips
July 22nd 2014


13229 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Snide's BVB review

BMDrummer
July 22nd 2014


9979 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That BVB review is kinda funny at this point, everyone else calls it generic or whatever, and he praises it the way people praise Dark Side of the Moon or something with that status. Just feels so different

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 22nd 2014


50960 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wag

Digging: Friendzone - Collection 1

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 22nd 2014


16922 Comments


Very awesome review GB and congratulations on your 100th. I fondly remember Knott doing this for his 100th as well. It's an epic album, so it makes for an epic review!

Digging: Low Roar - 0



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