In continuing with the general trend of somewhat-phallic (or completely phallic) album titles from this band, Luciferian Towers now issues as the sixth album from Montreal’s large collective of instrumental hum-drum (keep in mind Efrim Menuck’s notable side-project, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra). As with most of the band’s work of yore, strings play a fairly significant role, although here, I actually wish they would strut out a little MORE poignantly in parts, and that the band would not pile as many big, booming, faux-poignant snare drums all over the mix. Such a thing suggests a sort of fake, or fabricated power, when anybody in tunes knows that Godspeed’s real power lies in the haunting and the spare.
Luciferian Towers, for all its commendable instrumentation (strings actually take the virtuosic lead here, as if Eddie Van Halen were playing them or something), does err toward the AMBITION to be a rock album. Actually, “Bosses Hang Pt. I” steals the exact chord progression, and even some of the timbre strategies, of LIVE’s “Lightning Crashes.” Its successor “Bosses Hang Pt. II” starts to graft out some of the band’s time-honored old spookiness we know and love, but again, when those drums come in during the lugubrious and ambient parts the whole thing is ruined by an untoward stab at the anthemic. Side A is rounded off by “Bosses Hang Pt. III,” which basically plays as a Godspeed etude met with a Timothy Herzog drum-part aerobics session.
Side B’s mournful opening mood of “Fam/Famine” actually calls to mind Talking Heads’ Remain in Light for sequencing particularities, but will raise certain questions, I think, on just why the band would be preying on our emotions to THIS garish extent. Since their inception in the ‘90s, Godspeed You! Black Emperor have been preaching the apocalypse, highlighting the moral degradation of man and the crippled stature of humanity’s possibilities for the future. In this regard, it’s troubling to see that now, their attitude and m.o. haven’t changed very much at all, although maybe today they’re more “punk” actually utilizing that simple chord progression in “Bosses Hang Pt. I,” or, more accurately, like that lame uncle who thinks LIVE is really punk, and hip. Yeah, down with bosses, dude! Beer me! And it might take a few beers to get you through this languid balloon of sinking bombast.