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Godspeed You! Black Emperor note  are a Montreal based symphonic post-rock band. They are known for their movement-based, side-length suites, inclusion of samples and field recordings, and employment of minimalism in their music.

Their music is also incredibly dark.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor released four albums (including a demo album) and an EP from 1994 to 2003 before splitting up, then reforming in 2010 to go on a reunion tour, and released their fifth album in October 2012. A sixth album followed at the end of March 2015, a seventh in September 2017, and an eighth in April 2021.

The group takes its name from a 1976 black-and-white Japanese biker film. The group's debut recording, All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling, was released in 1994 and limited to thirty-three copies on cassette. Due to its rarity, the album became a Missing Episode for almost thirty years, having gone unheard outside the band's circle of friends and Constellation Records (which allegedly still owns a copy of the album). Two tracks of it were uploaded in 2013 and were confirmed to be legitimate, but the full album only surfaced online in 2022, two weeks before it was uploaded to the band's official Bandcamp.

Recorded mostly by Efrim Menuck alone with some help from Mike Moya and Mauro Pezzente, the demo was originally intended to be Menuck's retirement from making music, and bears little resemblance to the band that followed. However, despite Menuck's intentions, the inchoate project gathered local interest and was soon being asked to perform around the Montreal area, and gradually new members joined on and began helping compose new material.

The follow-up (generally considered to be their actual debut album), F♯ A♯ ∞, was released in 1997 on vinyl and 1998 on CD. The two editions are notably different; the CD version is almost twice the length of the vinyl due to added, lengthened, and rearranged movements. It is considered by some a loose Concept Album about the apocalypse.

Godspeed would stick to the minimalist, dissonant style of F♯ A♯ ∞ for their breakthrough and magnum opus Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, a double album with four tracks. This style would be modified for 2002's Yanqui U.X.O., produced by none other than Steve Albini.

After nearly eight years on hiatus, the band reunited for a few shows in 2010, and gradually extended this engagement into tours over the next two years. After more than ten years without releasing new material or announcing plans to, the band started quietly selling their fourth album, 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, at their live shows. It received favourable reviews and was awarded the Polaris Prize. A second new album, 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress', was released on March 31, 2015, to positive reviews; "Luciferian Towers" followed on September 22, 2017, also to positive reviews. Their seventh album, G_od's Pee AT STATE'S END!, was released on April 2, 2021, yet again to positive reviews.

Their best-known songs are probably "The Dead Flag Blues," "East Hastings," "Storm," and "09-15-00" due to their use in films and television ("East Hastings" was notably used in 28 Days Later).

It's also worth noting that their music contains a strong political component. They have been repeatedly described in the media as anarchists, although for a long time no one in the group explicitly subscribed to this label; however, Menuck called himself an anarchist in a 2014 interview, and their 2017 album "Luciferian Towers" ultimately removed any doubt about their political leanings between its accompanying press releases and song titles such as "Bosses Hang" and "Anthem for No State". (The band's politics are hilariously lampshaded in sister project A Silver Mt. Zion's FAQ). In any case, their music definitely articulates a strong anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist stance, which is even more explicit in sister band A Silver Mt. Zion (which contains several of the same members). That said, Efrim Menuck has said the band don't consciously try to be political, but simply write songs about the sort of things they talk about with their friends.

As of 2022, most of their discography (excluding the non-album single "Sunshine + Gasoline", and the vinyl bonus material on Yanqui U.X.O.) can be streamed at their Bandcamp for free (or purchased for download), and an absolutely colossal number of live performances can be streamed and downloaded at the Internet Archive for free.

An upload purporting to be the band's long-coveted demo All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling was posted to a certain infamous Image Board in February 2022. It was not initially clear whether it was genuine, though if it was fake, its creator would've needed to fake elements such as Efrim Menuck's singing voice, the band's rhythmic qualities and guitar tones, and a different portion of the conversation sampled in "Mouths Trapped in Static" (by GY!BE sister project Set Fire to Flames) - not to mention the inclusion of tracks that had been played on Canadian radio and confirmed to be from the demo, as well as much better-quality rips of two tracks that had previously surfaced in 2013. The GY!BE Discord has confirmed it to be legitimate, and on Valentine's Day 2022 the band released the demo on their official Bandcamp page, definitively confirming it to be real.

Band members:

  • David Bryant – Guitar, tapes
  • Efrim Manuel Menuck – Guitar, tapes, keyboards
  • Michael Moya – Guitar
  • Sophie Trudeau – Violin
  • Thierry Amar – Bass, contrabass
  • Mauro Pezzente – Bass
  • Timothy Herzog – Drums, percussion
  • Aidan Girt – Drums, percussion

Honorary members:

  • Karl Lemieux – Film, stage projections, art, etc.
  • Philippe Leonard - Film, stage projections, art, etc.

Former members:

  • Bruce Cawdron – drums, percussion
  • Norsola Johnson – cello
  • Roger Tellier-Craig – guitar
  • Grayson Walker – accordion
  • James Chau – keyboards, harpsichord, guitar
  • Thea Pratt – French horn
  • John Littlefair – film projections
  • Fluffy Erskine – film projections
  • Peter Harry Hill – bagpipes

Studio Albums:

  • F♯ A♯ ∞ (Pronounced 'F Sharp A Sharp Infinity,' 1997; CD version, a new recording of a new arrangement running more than twenty minutes longer than the LP and featuring a wealth of new material, was released in 1998. Nonetheless, a ninety-second segment from the end of "Nervous, Sad, Poor..." only appears on the LP.)
  • Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)
  • Yanqui U.X.O. (2002)
  • 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (2012)
  • 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress' (2015)
  • "Luciferian Towers" (2017)
  • G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END! (2021)

EPs, singles, and other releases:

  • All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling (Demo, 1994, re-release 2022note )
  • aMAZEzine! 7" (1998, split single with Fly Pan Am)
  • Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada (EP, 1999)


  • After the End: The monologue in "The Dead Flag Blues" describes this.
  • Album Intro Track: An odd example that's exclusive to their live performances so far. Pretty much every show they play opens with "Hope Drone" before they get to any of their album material. Depending on the performance it can either be a full song with drums and tempo changes, or simply a crescendoing wall of noise.
  • Album Title Drop: A subtle one in F♯ A♯ ∞. Side A of the vinyl begins in the key of F♯, side B begins in the key of A♯, and the record ends in an infinite locked groove.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: Inverted. The band's political position is Anarchism (as song titles such as "Bosses Hang" and "Anthem for No State" and the album title G_d's Pee at State's End! probably make clear), and their albums often explore how capitalism and government are chaotic. The band also says, "All current forms of governance are failed," in the release notes for At State's End!.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: The whole band, judging by interviews. Despite the overwhelmingly bleak atmosphere of much of their music, there's an undeniable sense of hope behind it, and the band say their music is fundamentally joyous in character. The best examples of this are probably songs like "Motherfucker=Redeemer", "Antennas to Heaven", and basically all of "Luciferian Towers".
  • Arc Number/Rule of Three: All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling features a recurring 3 motif, starting with the fact that only 33 copies were ever produced. 3 is featured predominantly within album art, multiple songs feature the number in some way ("Three Three Three", "$13.13", "333 Frames Per Second"), and the album is 3³ tracks long. Ironically, it also took slightly over 3³ years for a complete rip of the demo to surface online.
  • Arc Words: "Hope", "Amen", and "More of us than them" show up repeatedly throughout the band's visual materials.
  • Artifact Title: F♯ A♯ ∞ on the CD edition. The F♯ and A♯ still apply (they're the keys each of the first two songs starts in), but the ∞ referred to the ending of the vinyl edition, which obviously isn't a factor on a CD. ("Providence" is longer than the other two tracks, but ∞ would be a huge exaggeration if it were applied to that.)
  • Author Filibuster: The liner notes for "Luciferian Towers", which are very explicit about the band's anarchist, anti-capitalist ideology. A press release announcing the album's release also features demands such as ends to foreign invasions and national borders; "the total dismantling of the prison-industrial complex"; the acknowledgement of healthcare, housing, food, and water as "inalienable human rights"; and "the expert fuckers who broke this world never get to speak again". At State's End! has similar liner notes.
  • Avant-Garde Metal: "Luciferian Towers" falls under this genre, according to the band. A few of the band's other songs, most notably "Mladic" and "Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light'", also have a notably metallic element.
  • B-Side: They contributed this to a split 7" single with fellow post-rock band Fly Pan Am.
  • Big Rock Ending: "Providence," following four minutes of silence.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • The sampled announcement in the "Welcome to ARCO AM/PM" segment of "Storm" is partly in Spanish. Helpfully, there is an English announcement shortly thereafter that says basically exactly the same thing.
    • The "Attention...mon ami..." segment of "Antennas to Heaven" has a sample of children singing in French. The band themselves formed in Montreal, so this is probably many members' native language. See also Gratuitous French below.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Our Side Has to Win (for D.H.)" is an arguable musical example - it's probably the most beautiful song on the album, and it's also somehow simultaneously mournful and hopeful. It becomes even more bittersweet when one becomes aware of the context behind the song - see Grief Song below.
  • Black Comedy: "Moya Sings 'Baby-O'" might be an example of this, depending on one's sense of humour. See Lyrical Dissonance below.
  • Bol้ro Effect: A favorite technique of theirs. Every track on F♯ A♯ ∞ does this at least once.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Lift Your Skinny Fists is a relatively normal post-rock album, with the usual dark, movement-based suites and 20-minute tracks. Then, out of nowhere, this happens (0:00 – 1:14). Played With in that LYSF returns to being a relatively normal post-rock album (well, as normal as post-rock gets) immediately afterwards, making it more of a case of Bread, Eggs, Squick, Milk.
  • Broken Record:
    • The loop at the end of the vinyl edition of F♯ A♯ ∞. Side one of 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress' also ends with a loop (which is just replaced with about a minute of drone on the CD and digital versions, and then crossfaded into the beginning of side two).
    • "George Bush Cut Up While Talking" also contains a rather unsettling loop of a girl saying "It is a predominant question: why am I here, and what can I do to make it better? How can I do what is right?"
    • The Godspell "Where are you going?" sample in "String Loop Manufactured During Downpour" from "Providence"/"Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful...".
    • "They had a large barge with a radio antenna tower on it that they would charge up and discharge" from "Black Helicopter" in "East Hastings".
    • "With his arms outstretched, with his arms outstretched" from "Mladic".
    • The "Welcome to ARCO AM/PM Mini-Market" sample is a fairly long loop, but arguably still counts.
  • Call-Back, Continuity Nod: At the start of the movement "Kicking Horse on Brokenhill" from "Providence" (and "Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful...") on F♯ A♯ ∞, the band sampled Hazel Dickens singing Mason Daring's song "Gathering Storm" in the film Matewan (1987, dir. John Sayles). One of the songs on their next album is called "Storm", one of its movements is also named "Gathering Storm", and it incorporates melodic elements of Daring's song. Could also count as a Triumphant Reprise and possibly also as a Cover Version (none of the movements list composers).
  • Canon Discontinuity: Until February 2022, All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling was not available to the public. The tape leaked early in the month; the band then posted it to their Bandcamp on Valentine's Day as part of a charity fundraiser.
  • Capitalism Is Bad:
    • Could be interpreted as the meaning behind the line at the end of the famous "Dead Flag Blues" monologue.
    i open up my wallet
    and it's full of blood.
    • "Luciferian Towers" pretty unambiguously has this message, with one song entitled "Bosses Hang", among others.
    • Yanqui U.X.O, while lacking any lyrics, has this theme reflected on the album sleeve, being a web of different corporate entities who make up the military-industrial complex in the west.
    • The sample in "Welcome to ARCO AM/PM" from "Storm" is usually interpreted as the band commenting on how society, particularly large corporations, dehumanises those with fewer resources.
  • Concept Album: F♯ A♯ ∞ is considered this by some fans, relating to the end of the world as a result of the corruption and greed of those in power. It doesn't tell an overarching story, but the themes are certainly there. LYSF is similar, lacking any lyrics or formal plot, but the songs have similar themes flowing through them and taken together they form a sort of emotional arc when the album is listened to straight through.
  • Cover Version:
    • The very first movement of "Antennas to Heaven," "Moya Sings 'Baby-O'" is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Mike Moya singing the folk song "What'll We Do with the Baby-O."
    • "Gathering Storm" is, in some senses, an instrumental cover of a folk song by film composer Mason Daring, which appears in Matewan (1987). "Kicking Horse on Brokenhill" from F♯ A♯ ∞ (part of either "Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful..." or "Providence", depending on the format) had already sampled Hazel Dickens singing the song.
  • Crapsack World: The monologue that introduces "The Dead Flag Blues."
  • Crazy Survivalist: Blaise Bailey Finnegan III certainly comes across as one from what we hear of him.
  • Creator Thumbprint: The band's song titles (and those of sister project A Silver Mt. Zion) often gleefully assault standard English grammar. In particular, the word "the" is frequently replaced with "thee", an archaic second-person pronoun. There are also song titles like "Undoing a Luciferian Towers", "Their Helicopters' Sing", "Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable" (which for that matter throws in Gratuitous French as well - it's worth noting that almost all the band members are Quebecois), and "This Gentle Hearts Like Shot Bird's Fallen" (yes, those are all the official tags). Not to mention the many ways they misspell "Collapse Traditional" in the album and song titles.
  • Creepy Monotone:
    • "They had a large barge with a radio antenna tower on it, that they would charge up and discharge." in the middle of "East Hastings."
    • The opening monologue of "The Dead Flag Blues," at least for the first few lines.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: All of their band photos and most of their album covers.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Averted completely. The band allow fans to tape and circulate their shows. There are a ton (and we mean a ton) at the Internet Archive. This is often a way to hear songs before they are released:
    • All three of the songs on Yanqui U.X.O. had been performed live (under different titles) before the release of the album. This was the case with some of the movements on earlier releases as well.
    • The two centrepieces of the band's comeback album were débuted live nine years before the release of the album. ("Mladic" was available on bootlegs as "Albanian" and "We Drift Like Worried Fire" as "Gamelan").
    • The band's 2015 album, 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress', surfaced in live performances starting in 2012 as a track dubbed as "Behemoth," which would last anywhere from thirty-five to forty-five minutes in various performances. The band played it live at every show after they introduced it, or close enough at any rate. Sometimes (i.e., some of the nights they were opening for Nine Inch Nails) it was the only track they played.
    • During 2015, the band premièred two new songs live, one of them around fifteen minutes long and the other around twenty-three. These became "Bosses Hang" and "Anthem for No State", meaning that about two-thirds of "Luciferian Towers" was road-tested live for two years before appearing on an album. The other two tracks, "Undoing a Luciferian Towers" and "Fam / Famine", are a split-up version of a piece they began performing about a year before the release of the album.
    • Efrim Menuck repeatedly expressed surprise that All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling hadn't leaked. When it finally did, the band's response wasn't to try to get it taken down; instead, they sold a better-quality rip of it on Bandcamp as a charity fundraiser (while noting that it sounded nothing like their later material).
  • Dissonant Serenity: "The skyline was beautiful on fire, all twisted metal stretching upwards, everything washed in a thin orange haze." from "The Dead Flag Blues."
  • Distinct Double Album:
    • Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven.
    • Yanqui U.X.O. could also be considered an example on the vinyl edition, as the second LP is given over almost entirely (barring a strange and disturbing hidden track) to "Motherfucker=Redeemer." The CD features a shorter version of the track and omits the hidden track in order to fit on one disc.
    • 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! is a somewhat bizarre case. The vinyl edition is spread across an LP and a 7", with two long suites on the LP and two shorter drone pieces on the 7". The intended order, however, is to play the first side of the LP, then the first side of the 7", then the second side of the LP, and finally the second side of the 7".
    • G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END! replicates the format of Alleleujah, though it varies in that one of the shorter tracks, "Fire at Static Valley", is a full song in its own right rather than an atmospheric interlude.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Providence" could refer to either the concept of divine providence, or to the city of Providence, Rhode Island, where the interview sampled in the song took place.
  • Drone of Dread: A favourite technique of theirs dating back to "The Dead Flag Blues," they've if anything increased their usage of this trope in recent years, with entire tracks devoted to it now ("Their Helicopters' Sing" and "Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable" on 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, "Lambs' Breath" and "Asunder, Sweet" on 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress'). "Luciferian Towers" still employs drone, but it generally seems more aimed at establishing a chilled out ambiance than a mood of dread. "Fire at Static Valley" is the only piece on G_d's Pee at State's End! where the drone seems intended to invoke dread.
  • Dystopia: "The sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides, and a dark wind blows. The government is corrupt, and we're on so many drugs, with the radio on and the curtains drawn. We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Since All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling features only Efrim Menuck for much of its running time (with Pezzente making occasional appearances on bass and other guest performers appearing on a few other tracks), this is to be expected. Most of the tracks are short, many feature singing, there's almost no percussion of any sort and few samples, and it overall barely resembles the style of post-rock the band is famous for, sounding more like a noise folk band like the Microphones.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: "The Dead Flag Blues" ends like this. The majority of the song is dark and melancholic but the last few minutes of the song is upbeat and hopeful. "Antennas to Heaven" as a whole could also be thought of as being this to Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, despite the Nightmare Fuel of the intro, as could "Motherfucker=Redeemer" to Yanqui U.X.O. (if you exclude the nightmarish Hidden Track on the vinyl edition).
  • Echoing Acoustics: Common throughout F♯ A♯ ∞, but particularly "East Hastings."
    • Especially the version of "The Sad Mafioso..." from the LP release; it's much more echoing and deeper than the version from the CD release.
  • Either/Or Title: "Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light!'" and "ASHES TO SEA or NEARER TO THEE" both provide examples.
  • Ennio Morricone Pastiche: They seem to be pretty fond of this trope, having used it since their first album. "The Cowboy" section of "The Dead Flag Blues" and "Kicking Horse on Brokenhill" section of "Providence" both sound very influenced by Morricone, and "Bosses Hang" almost sounds like it could have been on the soundtrack of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly at times, as does Part Three of "Anthem for No State" (minus the tremolo-picked, distorted guitars, anyway).
  • Epic Rocking: In spades. Long story short, until their demo leaked, it was easier to count the number of Godspeed songs that were under 10 minutes than over. Most of the songs they've made after their demo exceed nineteen minutes in length, and two are so long that they had to be split across two sides for the vinyl releases:
    • The band's longest song (initially titled "Behemoth" in its early live performances) comprises the entirety of 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress'. It is over forty minutes long in its studio incarnation and has been known to reach forty-five or longer in live performances (which extend back to 2012). The studio version divides it into four tracks, but that's purely for ease of navigation - on no known occasion have the band not performed all four movements of the piece.
    • The band's second-longest song, "Motherfucker=Redeemer" (from Yanqui U.X.O.), isn't that far behind at over thirty-one on the CD version and nearly thirty-seven on the LP, thanks to an extended intro to the second half of the song on the vinyl edition. (A Hidden Track on the LP edition, the very creepy "George Bush Cut Up While Talking," could be considered to extend the piece's length by another three and a half minutes, depending on one's stance on hidden tracks).
    • Epic Rocking extends to a lot of their sister projects, too, although it's not as extreme with most of them. A Silver Mt. Zion, for example, have yet to have a song exceed twenty minutes, unless you count He Has Left Us Alone... as only two songs (as the vinyl edition does); furthermore, most of the band's side projects have quite a few released songs that are under ten minutes in length, unlike Godspeed, who have only seven (unless you count the individual movements of 'Asunder, Sweet' as songs).note 
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Yanqui U.X.O. vinyl bonus track, "George Bush Cut Up While Talking."
  • Eye Scream: "Every time the baby cries / I stick my fingers in the baby's eyes / That's what we do with the baby-o."
  • Fading into the Next Song: This is how the CD version of Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada is presented. They're necessarily split up by a side division on the vinyl. The side divisions of 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress' are also handled this way, although if you weren't listening for it, you might not even notice the cross-fade. Side one ends with a locked groove on the LP version instead.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: All the damn time, but especially "Providence."
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Described quite frighteningly by a sample of an evangelist preacher in "Static" off Lift Yr Skinny Fists:
    and when you penetrate to the most high god
    you will believe you are mad
    you will believe you've gone insane
  • The Good Old Days: "They used to sleep on the beach here, sleep overnight..."
  • Gratuitous French: Since the band are based in Montreal, they sometimes feature field recordings in French in their songs; it's most of the band members' native language. Additionally, the song title "Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable" features Gratuitous French; the French words translate as "Spring Green". One of the movements of "Storm" is entitled "Il pleut à mourir [+ Clatters Like Worry]"; a literal translation of the French part is "It's Raining to Die". One of the movements of "Antennas to Heaven" is entitled "'Attention...mon ami...fa-lala-lala-la-la...' [55-St. Laurent]"; the French part can be translated as "Attention, My Love" or "Careful, My Friend" or some variant of those. And, for that matter, sister band A Silver Mt. Zion's album Kollaps Tradixionales is structured in the noun-before-adjective format most common in Romance languages such as Frenchnote .
  • Grief Song: "Our Side Has to Win (for D.H.)", dedicated to Dirk Hugsam, an independent tour agent affiliated with Constellation Records who had become a close friend to many of the bands on the roster; he died peacefully in December 2018 after a long illness.
  • Hidden Track:
  • Horrible History Metal: "Mladic" is a loose example; it's one of their heaviest songs musically and named after a Serbian general who committed numerous massacres during The Yugoslav Wars.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Most of the times, their vocal samples are fairly comprehensible, with a few words difficult to make out. There are a couple of points that are so processed that it's difficult to make out anything, though:
    • The "Kicking Horse on Brokenhill" segment of "Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful..." and "Providence" opens with a rare sung passage, but it's drenched in so much reverb that most lyrics sites don't even attempt to transcribe what is being sung. It is a sample from the film Matewan of the song "Gathering Storm" (with lyrics written by American musician Mason Daring more or less to the tune of "Amazing Grace") sung by Hazel Dickens during a funeral scene.
    • "Cancer Towers on Holy Road Hi-Way" in "Storm" features a sampled speech of some sort, but there is so much distortion applied to it that it's difficult to make out more than a few of the words. It doesn't help that it's also mixed rather quietly.
    • "Chart #3" is a downplayed case, as most of the passages are fairly easy to make out. However, the voice begins fading after "It's not even in your Bible", and that's a bit harder to make out.
    • "Nothing's Alrite in Our Life" features a Christian preacher with a rather thick East Indian accent. It's possible to make out most of his words until the music drowns him out, though.
  • Insistent Terminology: While Godspeed and its side projects are almost universally considered Post-Rock, the band members themselves aren't too fond of the term. If asked, Efrim Menuck is most likely to identify with the ethos and aesthetics of Punk Rock.
  • Instrumentals: Most songs, though many have spoken word. All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling is the sole outlier here; many (though by no means all) songs have actual singing. (There is also a small amount of faintly audible scatting in the version of "The Sad Mafioso" featured in "East Hastings", but no actual lyrics.)
  • Just Before the End: The stated theme of G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!, which was recorded entirely during Canada's pandemic lockdown in 2020.
  • Last Note Nightmare:
    • The fly-like buzzing tone at the end of "East Hastings" is incredibly unnerving.
    • The locked groove at the end of the vinyl edition of F♯ A♯ ∞.
    • The hidden track on the vinyl edition of Yanqui U.X.O. features cut-up samples of George W. Bush saying a number of often rather horrifying things, and is constructed over a dissonant backing track.
    • "Static" has the most intense and heavy crescendo on the whole album, building up to a screeching climax before abruptly cutting off and ending with several minutes of quiet, sinister ambiance. The overall effect is like the silence after a really terrible battle or disaster.
  • Lighter and Softer: "Luciferian Towers", at least from a musical standpoint. It's their most hopeful recording to date.
    • In a sense, everything they've recorded since F♯ A♯ ∞, which is easily their most nightmarish album. Though since they'd already begun performing most of the material from their next EP and two albums by the time of its release, this may be less a case of the band changing its style than simply placing stylistically similar material on the same album.
    • The band's material since its reunion also isn't quite as dark overall as its earliest work, though again, most of 'Allelujah! was already being performed as early as 2003.
  • Long List: Blaise Bailey Finnegan III's list of the weapons he owns certainly qualifies.
  • Loudness War: Most of their discography averts this trope magnificently (as an example, most of Yanqui is in the DR9-DR13 range), but 'Allelujah! falls into this trope to a certain extent. At DR6, it's far from the worst offender out there, but it's also way less dynamic than their other work, and for music that relies so much on crescendi it really does squash a lot of the depth out of the music. From sister project A Silver Mt. Zion, the only albums to suffer badly are 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons and Kollaps Tradixionales (perhaps not surprisingly, as these are the two most recent. Both are DR8 (if you exclude the twelve short intro tracks on 13 Blues), which isn't bad for most genres of music, but is pretty bad for Post-Rock). This isn't to say the earlier releases of either band are completely immune, as there are still passages that have obviously been flattened out a bit and there's a bit of clipping on some of the loudest passages, but it's nothing that ruins the recording and not something casual listeners are likely to notice (apart from two tracks on Born into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upwards - "Take These Hands and Throw Them in the River" and "C'mon Come On (Loose an Endless Longing)" - that are conspicuously louder and more distorted than the rest of the album, which was pretty clearly done for artistic purposes).
    • Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything continues the borderline use of this trope in ASMZ's recent music, at DR7. 'Asunder, Sweet' is also DR7 (although the ranges of individual tracks vary from DR5 to DR9), but is mastered without much clipping this time; this also extends to At State's End!. "Luciferian Towers" is DR8, although tracks extend from DR6 to DR12; generally speaking, it has dynamics in the quieter portions, but the louder portions are, well, loud.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Moya Sings Baby-O," the first movement in "Antennas to Heaven," features Mike Moya singing a jaunty, upbeat tune about throwing an infant into a hayloft, feeding it alcohol, and stabbing its eyes out. The fact that it appears out of nowhere in the middle of a primarily instrumental symphonic post-rock record makes it even creepier (or an example of Black Comedy, depending upon one's sense of humour. Or both).
  • Meaningful Name: F♯ A♯ ∞ looks like gibberish, but the first song on the vinyl starts in the key of F♯, while the second song starts in A♯ and ends with a locked groove (hence the "∞"). This is something of an Artifact Title on the CD version because there is no locked groove and there are three songs (although the first two songs start in the same keys).
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: LYSFLATH, Slow Riot, and G__d's Pee are all quite sparse, just featuring symbols against blank backgrounds.
    • Lift Your Skinny Fists features two disembodied hands surrounded by red rays against a brown background.
    • Slow Riot has Hebrew characters which mean "Formless and empty" against a dark background.
    • G__d's Pee has two fanlike structures with tails trailing behind them forming something resembling a yin-yang symbol.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Contrasting with their later discography, most tracks on All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling are under 3 minutes in length. "No Job" is apparently the shortest at around 27 seconds long, and only "All Angels Gone" even hits the six-minute mark.
  • Mistaken for Terrorists: During the 2003 Yanqui U.X.O. Tour in the US, the band stopped for fuel in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The station attendant working that day assumed they were terrorists, and got another customer to call the police. The cops were suspicious of the band due to their possession of anti-government documents and photos of oil rigs, communication towers, etc. After running a background check, all was well and they were released. The band sometimes joke about the incident at shows. An account of the incident also made its way into Michael Moore's book Dude, Where's My Country?
  • Mood Whiplash: "Moya Sings Baby-O," the movement at the beginning of "Antennas to Heaven," comes out of nowhere and is a jaunty little guitar song. About abusing an infant. Afterward, the songs shifts back into the expected dark, symphonic number.
    • "Storm" starts off with an incredible build-up to an almost heroic, inspiring melody ("Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven"), only to suddenly shift to something quite foreboding and intimidating ("Il pleut à mourir [+Clatters Like Worry]"), just before collapsing into pure sadness. ("Cancer Towers on Holy Road Hi-Way")
    • "We Drift Like Worried Fire" starts out with the band's trademark creepiness, suddenly transitions into a gorgeous crescendo, then fades back into creepiness again.
  • Musical Pastiche:
    • The opening movement of 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress' seems very deliberately reminiscent of Black Sabbath's style (it bears a particularly strong resemblance to "War Pigs"). Several reviewers have noted the similarity.
    • "Steve Reich" kinda speaks for itself: It's right there in the title. Same with "J.L.H. Outro," named after blues legend John Lee Hooker (although it's more like a Space Rock take on his style of blues).
    • "Asunder, Sweet" has been compared to Nine Inch Nails' more ambient/atmospheric moments. Perhaps not surprising, as the two acts have toured together, and indeed, Godspeed played a formative version of 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress' during every night of that tour.
  • New Sound Album: The group maintains a largely consistent sound from album to album, but a few albums introduce new characteristics that are not found on older recordings. Note that because the band has a habit of performing material for years before recording it, some of these examples (particularly in the band's early years) may not represent the band changing its sound so much as they represent the band saving its material for an album of similar content.
    • F♯ A♯ ∞ is the clearest example in the band's discography by far; it cuts out the singing that was present throughout much of All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling, greatly expands the band's membership (and with it, the scope of their arrangements), and in general establishes most (though not all!) of the elements of what became their Signature Style.
    • Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada lacks the clearly defined movements of the band's début album F♯ A♯ ∞. The next year's Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven would continue in the vein of F♯ A♯ ∞ in having named movements that are clearly separate compositions, while the band's works afterwards would follow in the footsteps of Slow Riot in having organically evolving pieces that transition from idea to idea and (with the exception of 'Asunder, Sweet') not naming the individual movements.
    • Yanqui U.X.O. lacks the spoken word samples found on their other albums, and as with Slow Riot, the songs generally transition seamlessly from idea to idea instead of having clearly defined movements. That said, two songs on the CD version are split into two tracks (simply subtitled "Part One" and "Part Two"), while only one is on the vinyl edition. (Specifically, "Motherfucker=Redeemer" is split into two halves in both versions because of its length, but "09-15-00," which is split into two tracks on the CD, is treated as one song by the vinyl packaging).
    • 'Allelujah! continues the trend of no samples or clearly defined movements established on Yanqui for the most part, apart from a brief sample at the start of "Mladic." It also features an increased use of Drone of Dread; the trope was always present in Godspeed's work dating back at least to F♯ A♯ ∞, but the two shorter songs on 'Allelujah! consist entirely of this.
    • Mostly averted with 'Asunder, Sweet', despite the material being nine years newer than most of the material on 'Allelujah!; the album continues the lack of spoken word samples and increased use of Drone of Dread, but is divided into four movements for ease of navigation as it is comprised of a single forty-minute song. However, as with the band's two previous albums, the song transitions seamlessly from movement to movement instead of clearly being comprised of multiple songs stitched together, as the band's first two full-lengths were.
    • "Luciferian Towers" has somewhat shorter songs (seven to fifteen minutes apiece) and uses an uncharacteristically high number of major-key melodies. Drone is also a less predominant element than it had been on the band's two previous full-length albums. Musically, at least, it's the band's most hopeful record to date, overall.
    • G_d's Pee at State's End! brings sampled spoken-word parts back for the first time in a while; these are apparently sampled from shortwave radio, and open each of the longer pieces on the album. The most notable drone segments are those underpinning the two shortwave segments, along with the shorter piece "Fire at Static Valley". Sophie Trudeau's violin, which was always an important part of the band's sound, gets an expanded role on this album, notably becoming the lead instrument on the final track "Our Side Has to Win (for D.H.)". Overall, its mood is somewhat of a piece with that of "Luciferian Towers" in being less dark than the band's earlier work, despite being recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown; although it is mournful at times, it remains hopeful even then.
  • Post-Rock: One of the better-known examples, one of the most acclaimed, and arguably the Trope Codifiers (although ironically, they themselves seem to be ambiguous about the label).
  • Precision F-Strike: All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling and "Motherfucker=Redeemer."
    • '"I'm here to pay off my speeding ticket and I'm here to get my fines out of the way and get the fuck to work." The judge says, "You can't talk like that in my courtroom; you're in contempt of court." Then I said... I told the judge, "If that’s the best you can do, I feel sorry for you." I said, "Why don't you just shut your fucking mouth for once and listen?" I said, "I'm not gonna take any shit." I said, "I'm gonna pay my speeding ticket like I said." I walked up to the goddamn judge and I hand him my 25 dollars and I says, "There's my money; now I am leaving." And I left it at that.'
  • Protest Song: Most of their songs have this sort of feeling to them, despite the total lack of lyrics.
  • Rearrange the Song: This has been known to happen on occasion, which is probably no surprise since the band hones its material live before recording it, but some examples are especially drastic.
    • "World Police and Friendly Fire" used to have a different coda before it was recorded for the album. The band's last known performance of the original coda was in December 1998. Since their reformation, they have additionally added a new coda to this song that follows the coda of the album version.
    • "Dead Metheny" has also gotten an expanded coda since 2003, which has been known to double the length of the song in some performances.
    • They have also been known to rearrange the works of modern classical composers:
      • "Steve Reich" is so named because it is based on the piece Violin Phase (1967) by the eponymous composer (b. 1936), who is one of the pioneers of a musical style known as Minimalism, and a clear influence on Godspeed You! Black Emperor's musical approach.
      • "Moya" contains elements of Symphony No. 3, Op. 36 (1976, aka Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) by Polish composer Henryk Górecki (1933-2010). The Working Title of the song was actually "Gorecki", and it can still be found on some live bootlegs under that title.
      • The movement "Gathering Storm" is loosely based on a song by the same title by film composer Mason Daring, which in turn is loosely based on "Amazing Grace" by John Newton. The band had also incorporated a sample of Hazel Dickens singing the song in the film Matewan on "Kicking Horse on Brokenhill" from "Providence" (or "Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful..." on the LP) on their previous album.
  • Recurring Riff: "Undoing a Luciferian Towers" and "Fam / Famine" both share the same anthemic riff in their latter halves. This is because they were initially part of the same composition, but were split up for the album (they are, however, still performed live in their initial configuration).
  • Revolving Door Band: During the time period between All Lights and F♯ A♯ ∞, which led to recording difficulties.
  • Sampling: Loads of songs, but particularly "Storm," "Providence," "Blaise Bailey Finnegan III," and the hidden track after "Motherfucker=Redeemer" on the vinyl edition of Yanqui U.X.O. However, since their reformation, this had been largely abandoned, appearing only in the intro of "Mladic" until At State's End! brought it back again with samples of shortwave radio at the start of the two longer tracks.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Inverted. The band's music can be horrifying, but the band themselves are a bunch of polite Canadians.
  • Scatting: If you listen closely, you can hear some wordless vocals in the CD version of "The Sad Mafioso" from around 8:20 to around 8:50 into "East Hastings". Some live performances also feature the vocals.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "BBF3" on Slow Riot features a poem supposedly written by an interviewee (the core of the song is the man's rambling responses to questions), which is actually mostly made of lyrics taken from Iron Maiden's "Virus." (Godspeed's members were unaware of this at the time the song was released.)
    • The Hidden Track "J.L.H. Outro" is named after blues musician John Lee Hooker, a clear inspiration on the piece.
    • The original name of the movement "She Dreamt She Was a Bulldozer, She Dreamt She Was Alone in an Empty Field" was "John Hughes". The piece can be still found under this name on early bootlegs available on the Internet Archive.
    • The band has a song named after minimalist composer Steve Reich (b. 1936), which bears a striking resemblance to his body of work. It has thus far only been performed live; the fact that it is loosely based on his piece Violin Phase (1967) may be one reason why. It can, however, be heard in the session they recorded for legendary DJ John Peel.
    • The song at the start of "Kicking Horse on Brokenhill" (from "Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful..." and "Providence") is "Gathering Storm", written by American musician Mason Daring (more or less to the tune of "Amazing Grace"), sampled from the 1987 film Matewan. The woman singing is Hazel Dickens, although her voice is drenched in so much reverb in this sample that her words become almost indecipherable. The longest movement of "Storm" almost certainly takes its name from this song as well, and it loosely incorporates elements of Daring's song.
    • The voice in "String Loop Manufactured During Downpour" (from "Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful..." and "Providence") singing "Where are you going?" is sampled from "By My Side" from the 1973 film adaptation of the musical Godspell. This probably doubles as a Stealth Pun on the band's own name.
    • "Moya" is loosely based on Symphony No. 3, Op. 36 (1976, aka Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) by Polish composer Henryk Górecki (1933-2010), and was originally named "Gorecki" before being renamed.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: The tracks on 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress' are individual movements of the band's forty-minute composition "Behemoth," while the two longer songs on "Luciferian Towers" got split up into three tracks each for the CD and digital releases. This is also how many movements in their earlier songs are connected, although they weren't usually given separate tracks in these cases (the CD of Yanqui U.X.O. had a couple of track divisions, though nowhere near as many as there were individual segments). Occasional movement changes use Fading into the Next Song instead, and some of the movements on the band's first two full-lengths just fade out completely before the song starts up again with another movement.
  • Something Blues: Of the "Dead Flag" variety.
  • Song Style Shift: Very often, particularly on F♯ A♯ ∞ and Lift Your Skinny Fists where each track is arguably comprised of multiple songs stitched together.
  • Spoken Word in Music: Around 50% of their songs have this, including all of LYSF and F♯ A♯ ∞. Most notable would be "The Dead Flag Blues," whose opening monologue describes a Dystopia that occurs After the End, "Static," which has a long, rambling, insane sounding rant from a street preacher in it, "BBF3," built around an interview, and "Motherfucker=Redeemer," which (on the vinyl version) ends with a chopped-up speech from George W. Bush. Their usage of this trope dropped off for a while; only one song on 'Allelujah has an example of this, and it does not appear at all on 'Asunder, Sweet', "Luciferian Towers", or the CD version of Yanqui U.X.O. (it does appear in a hidden track on the vinyl edition, however). G_d's Pee at State's End! returns to the spoken-word samples, which are apparently sampled from shortwave radio, judging from the liner notes on their Bandcamp.
  • Subdued Section: Every song has at least one.
  • Textless Album Cover: F♯ A♯ ∞, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, Yanqui U.X.O., 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress'. So basically, all of them except All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling, "Luciferian Towers", and Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada (although the last of these has Hebrew text).
  • The Bible: The cover art of Slow Riot is the Hebrew phrase "Tohu vaVohu," the state of chaos that the world was in before Creation in the book of Genesis, lifted directly from a Hebrew Bible (including the tonal diacritics for Torah reading). It is variously translated as "without form and void," "void and waste," "formless and empty," and several other frequently seen combinations.
  • Titled After the Song: The band's song "Storm" and its movement "Gathering Storm" are named after the song "Gathering Storm" by American musician Mason Daring - the band all but explicitly confirmed this by sampling a recording of Hazel Dickens singing Daring's song in the film Matewan on their previous album.
  • Title Drop: "The sun has fallen down, and the billboards are all leering. And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles."
    • "We used to sleep on the beach."
    • "Welcome to ARCO AM/PM..." (not Barco, as mislabeled on the album — am/pms are only associated with ARCO gas stations. The mislabeling was most likely done for legal reasons).
    • "And so I went through that window, and the tower of Hell and the great serpentines of the highest order, and I went through that when I showed you chart #3..." — from the slightly unnerving Go Mad from the Revelation religious rant that takes place midway into "Static," titled "Chart #3."
    • "And all lights fucked on the hairy amp drooling with the hat and the rattle and the hairy guts shine. With the girls kissing girls and the boys kissing boys and the girls kissing boys and the hairy guts shine." — From the very surreal ending of "And The Hairy Guts Shine" from All Lights Fucked.
  • Title Track: They've never had a song titled exactly the same as the album it appeared on, but several songs and movements have been close. Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven has a song entitled "Antennas to Heaven" and movements entitled "Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven..." and "[Antennas to Heaven...]". 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress' has "Asunder, Sweet." "Luciferian Towers" has "Undoing a Luciferian Towers".
  • Toilet Humor: The band has referred to themselves as "God's Pee" on several occasions.
  • Uncommon Time: Occasionally.
    • "Dead Metheny" (the longest movement of "Providence") is in 7/8.
    • One segment of "Motherfucker=Redeemer" is a polyrhythm with a guitar part in 5/8 and most of the rest in 6/8. A later segment of the song is also in 7/8.
    • "Steve Reich" (a song based on the eponymous composer's Violin Phase and performed live as part of their sessions for DJ John Peel and for radio station VPRO) is also a polyrhythm with a guitar part in 7/8 and most of the rest in 6/8, possibly with other rhythms mixed in as well.
    • "Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven..." (the opening movement of "Storm") uses a variant - it's constructed around an unusual pattern of nine measures of 6/8 (at the opening of the song, it feels like four measures, then three, then two; once the drums come in, it feels more like three groups of three measures, though).
  • Villain Song: "Mladic" appears to be this, as it shares its name with a notorious war criminal.
  • War Is Hell: A subtle theme throughout their discography. This is most obvious on Yanqui U.X.O, which seems to largely be a critique of the American military-industrial complex. The album cover is a blurry photo of bombs being dropped from an airplane, the title is the Spanish word for "Yankee" and the acronym for "Unexploded Ordnance", the liner notes contain a web of corporate entities responsible for producing weapons for the US military, and the songs include "9-15-00", which is a reference to the date that the Second Intifada in Palestine started (though it actually started on September 28th, 2 weeks later), and "Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls". Additionally, the vinyl version of the album ends with chopped up samples of speeches given by George W. Bush. Outside of Yanqui U.X.O., they've also titled what's probably the heaviest song in their discography, "Mladic", after a notorious war criminal.
  • Wham Line: "I open up my wallet. And it's full of blood."
    • "They don't sleep anymore on the beach."
  • Wild Hair: Efrim Menuck.
  • Word Pur้e Title: F♯ A♯ ∞ (Pronounced "F Sharp A Sharp Infinity"). However, there's a reason for this title, at least on the vinyl edition; see Meaningful Name above.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: A lot of the sung songs and spoken word sections on All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling feature strange, stream of consciousness style writing. Even more comprehensive tracks like "Dadmomdaddy" still feature this to some extent.
  • Word Salad Title: All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling, again. Also, a lot of their song titles, especially in recent years. This extends to sister projects like A Silver Mt. Zion and Set Fire to Flames as well.
  • World Half Full: Seemingly their general perspective on the world, and "Luciferian Towers" in particular could be seen as a musical expression of this worldview: the liner notes and accompanying press releases are very explicit in detailing the many injustices the band sees in the world, but the music itself is hopeful, as if it were a call to arms.
  • Writing Around Trademarks/Bland-Name Product: Despite the recording sampled in the song clearly saying "Welcome to ARCO AM/PM," the album liner notes identify the movement name as "Welcome to Barco AM/PM... [L.A.X.; 5/14/00]." The reason why probably falls under one of these tropes.