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Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – The West Will Rise Again (Ruined City Birdsong Combos)

6 February 2012

Silver Mt. Zion have, for the moment, left their Godspeed You! Black Emperor brethren long enough to fit in a tour of their own. And on that tour, they are brandishing this limited to 1000 copies EP. Clocking in around 23 minutes, The West Will Rise Again is the band’s shortest release by a good margin. With this relatively concise approach, and a return to form, comes some mostly excellent results. The record is, essentially, 3 songs on 4 sides of vinyl. The first disc contains both parts of “What We Loved Was Not Enough”, an obviously emotional track that works as an extension of guitarist/vocalist Efrim Menuck’s solo album from last year. Its instrumental moments are every bit as wonderful as what we have come to expect with the violins of the incomparable Sophie Trudeau as well as Jessica Moss gliding above the frenetic guitar. Multi-instrumentalist Theirry Amar’s contributions are undoubtedly all over this release (as they are every record) but they vary so much track to track that one can never quite place them. Menuck’s vocals, long the Achilles’ heel of SMZ, has gotten better over the last few LPs but does occasionally veer into too annoying territory. The vintage repeating of the same lyrical phrases still adds weight.

“Psalm99,” is the darkest but, somehow, the least foreboding composition on the record. What makes the post-rock genre and, in particular, Godspeed and Silver Mt. Zion so riveting was the mixture of beauty and impending apocalypse. “Psalm99,” misses there. But how quickly the EP is redeemed with “The State Itself Did Not Agree,”. The finale contains those wonderful elements and builds to an instrumental climax for 4:25 before Menuck’s voice threatens to spoil the whole thing. Thankfully, he manages to match the restraint drummer David Payant regularly demonstrates. A triumphant ending to a largely impressive EP.

 

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