Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial
Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything
Released 20 January 2014 (Constellation)
By Adam Wood
Though more well-known as the guitarist of the critically-acclaimed, anarchist metal band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Efrim Menuck has toiled for years with a rotating group of bandmates under the (current) moniker Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, churning out seven full LPs since the turn of the millennium. Throughout these albums, the group has maintained what they describe as “a punk-rock take on neo-classical and modern music tropes,” with various folk influences particularly given the band’s deference to communal singing, violins, and spoken word throughout. The band’s newest release Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything continues this style and their distinct anti-authoritarian attitude with a new sense of vitality and urgency.
The album begins itself with a sound clip of Menuck’s four-year-old son Ezra, who cheerfully introduces, “We live on the island called Montreal, and we make a lot of noise because we love each other.” This heartwarming sentiment sets the tone and attitude for the rest of the album, and indeed is indicative of the group’s apparent outlook in general: we fight because we love each other. The willingness to fight the corrupt, to tirelessly refuse authority and societal standards, is encouraged solely by our love for one another. Ezra’s prologue immediately evolves into the smash of a drumset and blaring strings, working in ecstatic dissonance with Menuck’s guitar riffs to create a nearly-muddled soundscape. The emphasis of the album is made clear, if his son’s introduction failed to do so earlier: noise. Even the communal singing, layered throughout the track as all five members of the group sing, becomes discordant and almost distracting, though not in a negative way.
It is evident throughout this album that Silver Mt. Zion’s message, though encouraging of love, is conveyed through anger, unrestrained emotion that challenges the audience in a call to action. The coexistence of love and anger is a curious conundrum, one that seems impossible at first until one realizes that one is not possible without the other. Angry as it might be, Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything is positive and expectant, the boisterous sound of a collective that recognizes change on the horizon but is resigned to the reality of the present. Nowhere is this more evident than the album’s second track and doubtless epic, which begins with an folkesque and politically charged acoustic introduction and slowly swells into an orchestral piece highlighted with bagpipes and furious bursts of violin. The song permutates several times over its 14-minute course, but somehow continues to gain momentum and energy where it seems impossible; as the song gloriously climaxes eight minutes into the album, Menuck leads his group in thunderous repetitions of “Lord let my son live to see that mountain torn down,” a furious metaphor for the pent-up anger and aggression towards “the system,” whatever that may mean. I don’t want to get too weighed down by whatever political or societal views the band may hold, but the focus of the album is one of pure aggression and the will to fight.
The noisiness of the orchestral punk across this album walks a fine line between unadulterated love and unadulterated anger, often becoming confused and evolving into one another. Many of the album’s gentle moments take on deceivingly soft appearances, before being betrayed by the furious return of noise or Menuck’s grim, defeated lyrics: on What We Loved Was Not Enough, for example, the song culminates in his repetition of the line “all our children are gonna die.” Even dire, foreboding lines like this somehow uphold Silver Mt. Zion’s fighting spirit, their willingness to battle for a better future even if at times it all seems hopeless. The album returns time and time again to its cacophonous sound, cutting off every negative sentiment, every theme of doom and gloom, with the roaring tide of noise, reminding the audience of one simple truth: we make a lot of noise because we love each other.
Favorite Tracks: Austerity Blues, What We Loved Was Not Enough, Rains Thru The Roof At The Grande Ballroom (For Capital Steez)
Rating: Love It