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Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Edinburgh Playhouse
Five stars

When on Monday night the power went down in parts of Edinburgh a stone's throw from the Playhouse shortly after Godspeed You! Black Emperor had performed the live soundtrack to dance troupe The Holy Tattoo's frenetic performance of monumental, it was as if the apocalypse the Montreal sired octet had been presaging for so long had finally begun. If such a prospect was unfounded by what was merely the city's shoddy electrics, it nevertheless recalled the power failure caused by GY!BE when they understandably blew the private view size speakers in Stills Gallery during their first Edinburgh appearance.

Eighteen years on, and two nights after monumental, the shadowy collective's insistent brand of baroque metal sounds like an even more urgent point of holy salvation in an increasingly dark world. With a low rumble already on the go as the audience enter, things begin with a freeish alliance of double bass and fiddle as the rest of the band gradually join in on a version of the still unreleased Hope Drone.

Flanked by split screen images of barren town and country landscapes, every nuance of the largely seated alliance of three guitarists, two bass players, two drummers and fiddler Sophie Trudeau is distilled through a state of art PA brought in by EIF with a clarity that bombards without ever overwhelming. Shades of melancholy, triumph and despair permeate through what at moments morphs into a fractured Celtic lament, at others a barn dance at the end of the world, before the ensemble departs to a wall of feedback. Outside, the lights may be on, but it looks like the flood is on its way.

The Herald, August 11th 2016

ends

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