Review ·

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra has got it rough. The Canadian outfit is best known as a splinter group from Constellation Records' presumed defunct post-rock flagship, Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Godspeed's venerable legacy is both a blessing and a curse for Silver Mt. Zion. If it weren't for Godspeed, none of its tributaries would be as successful as they are. Much of Godspeed's fanbase followed Efrim Menuck and company into this, their next musical endeavor. Conversely speaking, Godspeed is also a ball and chain, a high watermark by which all its members' future work will be judged. In that regard, Kollaps Tradixionales and its punk-and-blues infused bluster reveals a band struggling to come into its own.

Kollaps Tradixionales is a continuation in sound and style along the course the band plotted on 2008's 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons. Like 13 Blues, Kollaps's major compositional elements are Menuck's effects-laden guitar and adenoidal howl, which bears a striking resemblance to that of Fugazi's Guy Picciotto; Sophie Trudeau and Jessica Moss's atmospheric strings; and songs nearly as long as your average television sitcom. Kollaps, too, is made up of four lengthy pieces, two of which are broken up into multi-part suites. This ballast is as much a part of Silver Mt. Zion's legacy as musicians (Godspeed's legendary double-disc Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven contained four 20-minute epics, and most recent Silver Mt. Zion records follow suit) as it is the major problem with their work. Simply put, some of the songs collapse under their own enormity.

begins with the stately hymn-like "There Is a Light," which uses the first eight of its 15 minutes building to a moody climax, only to crash back into the muted tones of its opening moments. It's a dirty trick, leading listeners toward a payoff not worth the weight of the climb. The plodding punky "I Built Myself a Metal Bird" follows, doing away with the structure of the first song entirely. It opens with a steady straight-forward rock riff and rams it home for six intense minutes, with Menuck caught up in the moment, screaming, "Dance, motherfucker!" like a man possessed. The problems with this composition start when "I Built Myself a Metal Bird" ends and "I Fed My Metal Bird the Wings of Other Metal Birds" plays out. The vibrant first half of "Metal Bird" works great on its own. Did we need a pit of soupy, formless meandering and a sweaty reprise tacked onto the end of it? The second half of the composition drags the album down considerably.

The remainder of Kollaps runs more smoothly. The title track pulls off the multi-part suite bit with panache. The first part, "Kollapz Tradicional (Thee Olde Dirty Flag)," is reminiscent of Godspeed's "9-15-00." Both tracks float in on tremolo strings and mournful guitar. "Kollapz" cuts out at its apex to make way for "Collapse Traditional (For Darling)," a short and elegant ballad. "Kollaps Tradicional (Bury 3 Dynamos)" picks up where the first part left off, finally whipping up the angular guitar frenzy the last two tracks presaged. "'Piphany Rambler" closes the album by perfecting the patient, side-long blues the band tried earlier on "There Is a Light." "'Piphany Rambler" moves where "There Is a Light" wandered, and when the song finally reaches its climax, it feels hard fought. It fades out slowly, leaving listeners with a sense of relief and release.

It may all come down to this: The members of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra take themselves too seriously. The bizarre band name changes that grace each album are proof of this, as is their commitment to these gargantuan, intricately structured songs. Maybe that formula is getting a little stale -- not every composition needs 15 minutes to unfold, and not every composition can hold listeners for 15 minutes.


These guys perfected the epic-crescendo-rock model a decade ago. They're onto something with the blistering, bluesy, punk direction, but the sound will never gel as long as the songs keep getting stretched beyond their logical breaking points. It's time to move on.


  • There Is a Light
  • I Built Myself a Metal Bird
  • I Fed My Metal Bird the Wings of Other Metal Birds
  • Kollapz Tradixional (Thee Olde Dirty Flag)
  • Collapse Traditional (For Darling)
  • Kollaps Tradicional (Bury 3 Dynamos)
  • 'Piphany Rambler

A band forever plagued by name changes prefixed with “Silver Mt. Zion,” the group is now Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, seemingly wanting nothing more to do with the Tra-La-La Band (those bastards), and slimming down to an uneven five members. Kollaps Tradixionales is its first release since changing members in 2008. Steeped in scuzzy electric guitar with orchestral influence, Kollaps plays with the traditional idea of blues, marching songs, sea shanties, and hymnals, all with a hefty coating of SMZ’s experimental frosting.

Amplive - Murder At The Discotech The Morning Benders Big Echo

I think this review was kind of awful.
What do you expect from smz, 3:30 songs? That's formated commercial crap. If they want to have 15 or 20min songs, then let them have'em, because i don't believe in tracks, i believe in albums. An album should be listened to as an album, and if you like an artist's work, and want to appreciate, then for the love of god, never listen to tracks, but to albums. So if the album has 40 tracks or just a single tracks, it doesn't matter at all, what matters is the content in those tracks, and the overall length of the album will be maintaned, both with 40 or with 4 tracks.
Also, the Metal Bird reprise does completely not drag the album down!It's part of the experience, an album is an experience, and if you have a song about bombing iraq, with motherf*ckers burning in white smoke, then of course you'll expect an introspective moment and some "aftershocks" after the excitement of that drill. I was really disappointed with this review, it's so superficial, and lacks comprehension about this kind of music. I also remark that you shouldn't subjudge smz just because once there was gsybe. If they were to be gsybe, they would have kept the band.

Tiago Ribeiro

There's so much wrong with this statement. It irks me when people insult my musical acumen just because I disagree with them. Bashing my understanding of "this kind of music" is unfair. Reviews don't come with credentials, but I've been a big fan of prog, post-rock, instrumental, ambient, drone, noise, etc. for the last decade or so. I actually care about this stuff, and best believe I know what I'm talking about, which is why I took the task of writing about it. I believe in albums too, but when I'm listening to one, and I start getting mindful of the length of the song, the artist has lost me a little. It's not a matter of patience; one of my favorite records lately is Sleep's "Dopesmoker" which is essentially one 60+ minute song with pretty much two chords played the whole time. Sleep pulls it off. It's a matter of whether the music is listenable and engaging all the way through. Kollaps drags in spots, and I don't have to like the way its assembled cause it's my job to critique it. You seem pretty passionate. You review the next one.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/LongestWinter/moonjpg.jpg CraigJenkins

Take what you can get: Most of the negative comments on my reviews say I suck people's balls.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/thestorfer/1202393jpeg.jpeg andross

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