“We live on the island called Montreal, and we make a lot of noise because we love each other”. This is how the album starts, a declaration of purpose voiced by the young son of bandleader Efrim Menuck and violinist Jessica Moss, and it fits exactly. There is a lot of noise, and there is a lot of love.
Silver Mt Zion began as a sort of diet version of Menuck’s better-known band, post-rock’s 800 lb gorilla Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The pieces that Silver Mt Zion dealt in were shorter, more (!) experimental, but equally as apocalyptic in their tone. As the band continued they deviated from this. They gave interviews and did the odd hamster-wheel industry event, something Godspeed would never do (as the 2013 Polaris Prize ceremony proved). Sometime around 2005’s Horses In The Sky Efrim began to put his shaky, quavering voice to a purpose, and actual singing became a part of their repertoire. Nearly ten years and three albums later he’s grown into that voice; Fuck Off Get Free is the first Silver Mt Zion album where his vocals seem to work with the other instruments rather than buck against them in an odd way – there’s a lot of PiL-era John Lydon in it. Part of this is likely due to the downplay of the kitchen-sink approach to music-making; 2010’s Kollaps Traditionale debuted a leaner, more focused Silver Mt Zion and Fuck Off Get Free continues in this tradition. There are only six of them but they make a maelstrom of noise that would befit a band three times that size. The effect comes off as a sort of dark, political post-hardcore group using the themes and motifs of post-rock to make their impact – as though Fucked Up dropped the growl and made the violin more prominent, if you like.
Anyone who’s ever followed Menuck’s work for a while will be unsurprised by the lyrical topics (the Godspeed family are avowed socialists and can usually be found railing against the state, late period capitalism, austerity measures, and the like) but the content and delivery is also refined now. Far from 2008, when Menuck was bellowing “Your band is bland!” over near-metallic guitars, we get images of dreams on fire, pale men with boots on our collective necks, and the Occupy-ready chant of “all we want is what we’re owed, we’ve all of us carried this load”. Silver Mt Zion is, as per usual, the experimental band of choice for an uncertain world of struggle and possible collapse.