Throughout his 19 years of releasing music, Efrim Menuck’s vision of the world has pretty much stayed consistent: the world we live in is a bleak and terrible place. This view was portrayed perfectly with some of the opening lines to his main project, Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s first release, F# A# ∞ back in 1994 on “Dead Flag Blues”: “We’re trapped in the belly of this horrible machine/and the machine is bleeding to death”. But compare this with the opening lines of Fuck Off Get Free We Shine Light On Everything, where they are spoken nervously by his and violinist Jessica Moss’ child; “We live on the island called Montreal, and we make a lot of noise… because we love each other”, you can see the progression, the hope, that since becoming a father, he has allowed into their music. You can even see from the artwork, his son sitting on his knee, emitting a blinding light that shines through the bleak filter set on the photo.
This isn’t to say that Fuck off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything is by any means an optimistic record. The usual themes that are present throughout GY!BE and TSMZ’s discographies are still present. “Take Away These Early Grave Blues” is a desperate, hectic ballad about class war, with lyrics filled with obvious anarchy; all stabilized at the end with the line “Love each other that is all”. “Austerity Blues”, is a quarter hour punk epic of abrasive guitars balanced out by frenetic violins, and it’s about the unfairness of the Canadian financial situation. Death is also a theme highly present again, with a surprising dedication to Capital Steez, a former member of Joey Bada$$’rap crew Pro-Era, who committed suicide by throwing himself off a building on Christmas Eve of 2012 with “Rains Thru the Roof of Thee Grande Ballroom (For Capital Steez)”, and on “What We Loved Was Not Enough”, Menuck chants in his abrasive tenor the line “All our children gonna die”. Now he’s not only worried about the world because it’s going to shit, but his children are going to have to live in it.
Musically, this is a very immediate post-rock album. There are hardly any crescendos; each track hysterically dives in with some of the heaviest stuff TSMZ has released. But instead of the usual build-ups we know and love from them, this album has perfected the comedowns. After the insane bad trips of the longer tracks, their layers are thinned out with such finesse; it conjures the same, if not more emotions than the apocalyptic mind-fuck that preceded it. And still throughout these huge changes in the music’s temperament, the melodies are still kept as clear and crisp as ever.
Throughout this LP, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra have managed to mature their sound to an even greater and surprising level, balancing out optimism and pessimism, activism and parenthood, and ideals of punk and hippie. And despite all the catharsis these balances provide, they still sound as uncompromising as ever.