3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
Expanding and brightening the grim apocalyptic visions of their first album F#A (infinity), Lift Your Skinny Fists stretches out comfortably into what was once firmly prog rock turf—a double album consisting of only four songs (well, “suites,” more like)—and manages to make all eighty some odd minutes count.
After the heavily ironic and snarky pastiche of the ‘90s, Godspeed ushered in a once-promising new era with one of the most grandiose, emotionally resonant and dramatically ambitious pieces of ear cinema ever made. Regardless of what you think of this Canadian mini-orchestra’s anarcho/Marxist/anti-capitalist views, the main statement of this album is rejection of a cold and cynical modern world—taking the place of lyrics are audio snapshots of preachers at the height of religious fervor, an old man reminiscing about Coney Island’s lost grandeur, and schoolchildren singing in French framed by glorious sweeps of strings, guitar, and horns backed by thundering drums. From the opening fade-in of “Storm” to the cosmic choir of heavenly drones finishing the album, this is BIG music and totally unapologetic about that fact, with crescendos that will make you fall apart sobbing, shaking your fist at the sky and everything in between and if you’re not cranking this to volumes normally reserved for B-52’s on takeoff, you’re doing it wrong.
However, details are not lost in the volume or instrumental density and Godspeed know how to employ each and every instrument for maximum effect—take for example, the few sad, droning piano notes accompanying a distant squelched voice at the end of “Storm”; a swell of mournful violin underscoring a crazed preacher and the screaming guitar lead that takes the crescendo of “Static” to Olympic heights; the Krautrock-like drumming accompanying the guitar and string turmoil at the end of “Sleep”; the rustic, Floydian melody in the middle of “Antennas to Heaven”… I could go on and on, and the band pulls all this off without a hint of pretention, detractors be damned.
Simply put, a more epic album does not exist in this decade, or most others for that matter. This is music for the last concert hall on Earth.