Review Summary: Same old instruments, new frequencies
It is a joke, the title. Good one, Godspeed––er, G_d’s Pee, sorry.
It is also deadly serious, the title. Borderline reverent, deference in vowel’s omission.
The trauma we’re enduring; that fatigue you’re feeling; the calamity to come, it’s real;
And words fail here––call it black-hole corona-matter, so to speak––celestial piss––
The Wrath of God is no joke. Prepare your soul and steel your mind. States will fall...
And then transform. Cuz it ain’t the *end*-end. But it’s an end. Accept it. Take heart.
You aren’t powerless in this. That’s their thesis, and that’s STATE’S END in a nutshell.
You sigh. Weary listener you are. You’ve outgrown this brand of theater. It’s pretentious. Damn right, it’s pretentious. This is Godspeed You! Black Emperor, after all. What do you expect? Chill? Restraint? C’mon. You either roll with it or you don’t. If you do, you know it comes down to the quality of your experience; and the way I see it, the band’s execution here––both in terms of their aggressively wordy, politically-charged promotion strategy as well as the record’s deep cohesion––makes for a classic Godspeed experience.
There’s much to be said about the group’s version 2.0 studio formula, their use of interludes between longer meditations, and how this structure deviates from their earlier, less reified approach to sonic world-building. And it’s significant that STATE’S END doesn’t modify this formula. Two chonkers, with intermissions. What enables the group’s seventh album to stand out from their previous three is the way the whole thing functions as a singular experience. The two long tracks are brothers. Twins, “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” grieving for our brain-addled present. They begin proper with iterations on a theme redolent of Vangelis, and then they do their work. “A Military Alphabet” takes its time, as befits its role as overture. “Government Came,” on the other hand, falls headlong into generic post-rock routine.
You’ll either like these big tracks or you won’t. Me? I think they’re awesome: exciting, cinematic, and adventurous. You may find them derivative, exhausted, straining. And in a way, they are. But see, that’s part of the appeal, the self-reflexive reckoning with form and message––it speaks to me as citizen of a flailing culture. So I get the criticisms. I agree with them. Nevertheless, STATE’S END strikes me as a near-classic. Elevated by two incredibly realized interludes serving as links to the two major nodes, this record arguably presents Godspeed’s most unified stretch of music this side of Slow Riot. Instead of dispensing the energy of “A Military Alphabet,” “Fire at Static Valley” feeds on the tension of its field-recording conclusion, channels it forward––and it is this refusal to end a thought that finally propels Godspeed 2.0 to the threshold of their classic works. A tired but hopeful, subtle yet familiar album, it will probably not top the pundits’ lists when the time comes, if it even comes; but for now, if you feel so compelled, you may lift whatever’s left of you. To Heaven. To the coming flood.