By the time Yanqui U.X.O., Godspeed’s previous full-length album, had hit the shelves, their marriage of Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs-inspired strings, grim crypto-political field recordings, and gory climaxes of guitar angst, had spawned legions of imitators worldwide. It had also exhausted the ears of some listeners.
Ten years on, the Montreal experimental rock collective hasn’t exactly reinvented itself, but it has definitely shed some of its soundtrack-like sturm ünd drang from its sound. Allelujah! sees their sound evolving into something more elemental, fierce, and textured. There are still strings, but the instruments’ timbre is so thoroughly ensconced in fuzz, that they’re merely a part of the surging, barbed mess of sound. There are still the wide dynamics, but there isn’t the same inevitable drive toward one intense peak.
The opening twenty-minute track “Mladic” first writhes around in tense drones and feedback, ultimately ambling into a noisily rectangular and decidedly rockist racket. The dry, over-rosined kemençe tone on “Their Helicopters Sing” is deliciously rustic. The track eventually unravels to something more like a swarm of haggard electric bagpipes wheezing their way through a time-stretched melody.

Though GY!BE have never been known for musical frugality, here they’re at their most succinct and cohesive since their masterful 1999 EP Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada. Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is a welcome and powerful comeback.