Canada - Full Moon 105 - 04/24/05
Silver Mt. Zion
Horses in the Sky
This band was formed because GYBE!'s guitarist (named Efrim) wanted a smaller group to work in. Silver Mt. Zion started out a few years ago as a 3 piece ensemble, quite different from Godspeed's myriad 9 players. But now, Silver Mt. Zion's full name is actually longer than Godspeed You Black Emporer's: the full name is "Thee A Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-la-la Band". And not only that, but there are 7 players now! So basically, this is Godspeed You Black Emporer under an even more pretentious name. Well, I sure hope the music transcends all that crap, because it's supposed to be angry protest music.
The 11:44 "Dead Marines" starts with a cry: "They put angels in the electric chair, the electric chair, the electric chair". A Danny Elfman-esque string section follows. The tempo begins to pick-up. There are hand-claps. We fall to a cadence and more singing. Sounds like he's trying to be folky. The singing certainly sets this band apart from GYBE!. Efrim's lyrics are impressive, able to remain visceral throughout the whole of this long song. He speaks of many tragedies in this song, and as is often devoid in protest music, many of them are personal. There is a really good acapella section of singing towards the end of this long tune that is exceptionally affecting.
Unfortunately, ASMZMOaTllB cannot keep these behemoths of songs interesting after the first one. "Mountains of Steam" opens with more words and determined singing. A guitar break saves the song after verses that are beginning to get tiring. I hate to say this, because I know it's a tradition for these people, but please, this song is TOO LONG. Okay. Next we have the title track, "Horses in the Sky" - an apocalyptic name. They focus at the beginning on the melody, which is honestly a bit mediocre. What the words say is true enough, but I'm just not turned on by this melody.
In "Teddy Roosevelt's Guns", I find myself getting more annoyed at Efrim's voice. I look at the length of the song, 9:41, and think, I just can't spend this kind of time. While there are some interesting spots, such as the sound of a fire that opens "Hang on to Each Other", Silver Mt. Zion is gonna have to do more if they really expect the choir they're preaching to on board. My vote is to drop Efrim's voice and go back to calling the band "Godspeed You Black Emporer!" I recommend this to anyone more interested in protest and strings than melody and brevity.
Copyright © 2005 Eugene Ward