Thee Silver Mt Zion - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything

by Andy Brown Rating:7 Release Date:2014-01-27

Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra hasn’t released a full album in a few years, but they’ve arrived in 2014 all-guns blazing. I mean, no shy and retiring types would name their album, Fuck Off, Get Free, We Pour Light on Everything. Formed by Godspeed You! Black Emperor guitarist Efrim Menuck in 1999, the band has carved-out their own unique identity away from Canada’s foremost post-rock titans.

There’s still an apocalyptic element to Thee Silver Mt Zion’s sonic outpourings, yet the band’s sound is more immediate- driving basslines, frazzled guitars and Menuck’s yelps guiding the way to death or glory. The album opens with a child’s voice (“We live on the island called Montreal, and we make a lot of noise, because we love each other”) before ‘Fuck Off Get Free (for the Island of Montreal)’ bursts out of the speakers. The track goes straight for the jugular with fuzzy, Kevin Shields-indebted guitars and driving drums. There’s a sense of defiance in hard times as the band sing the album’s title in unison.  It’s electrifying stuff.

The 14 minutes of ‘Austerity Blues’ begin with a harshly struck acoustic guitar and vocals about being “fucking high and awful low”. The track gradually surfaces; spiralling violins and explosive guitars building to ever more defiant crescendos. The song puts up two fingers to austerity and is sure to make one glorious noise while doing so.

The band has expressed an affinity with bands such as Black Flag and Minutemen, and this punk-rock ethos (although not musical style) comes through strong on Fuck Off, Get Free, We Pour Light on Everything.  ‘Take Away These Early Grave Blues’ features more hands-aloft, gang-vocals as the band chant the title's plea. If Arcade Fire had grew up listening to DC hardcore bands rather than David Bowie then maybe this is what they would sound like.

‘Little One’s Run’ serves as a brief, calming interlude, featuring a skeletal piano and the vocals of violinists Jessica Moss and Sophie Trudeau. It’s a gorgeous track. ‘What We Loved Was Not Enough’ begins as an atmospheric slow-builder with Menuck’s vocal's sounding uncharacteristically vulnerable and wounded. The track swells and you see why they’ve put orchestra at the end of their name.

It’s a good enough track yet lacks a little of the opening section's relentless urgency. The album closes with ‘Rains Thru the Roof at the Grande Ballroom (for Capital Steez)’, a short yet deeply atmospheric piece which see’s Menuck encouraging the listener to “hold on”.

Fuck Off, Get Free, We Pour Light on Everything isn’t perfect; some of the tracks could probably lose a few minutes ('Sacrilege!' I hear you say) and this in turn means the album loses a little momentum towards the end. However, when it hits the spot it’s extremely hard not to be impressed. The first half of the album in particular rages with an undeterred, defiant energy that knocks you right off your feet.

 

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