Swans | The Great Annihilator | ReviewThe best songs here manage to transcend trendiness (Special to the Washington Post)
On their earliest albums, Swans made brutally basic proto-industrial music. The band gradually mellowed, however, incorporating acoustic guitars, female vocals and Eastern melodies into a style that led to an alliance with a major label. The relationship didn't last long, but the group (long based in New York but now resident in rural Georgia) hasn't entirely abandoned its sound from that period. Its latest album, "The Great Annihilator," successfully incorporates aspects of both eras.
By now, combining a sinuous crypto-Islamic vocal with a fierce beat is not a novel idea. Still, Swans meld the two with more potency than most; such songs as "Celebrity Lifestyle" and "Mother/Father" (the two "Annihilator" tracks recycled on a new three-song CD) are both ethereal and earthy. Indeed, the best songs here manage to transcend trendiness. By contrasting floating melodies with thumping beatsÂ—and M. Gira's bass vocals with Jarboe's sopranoÂ—Swans crafts music of such incantatory power that lyrics about the "place in space where violence and love collide" don't seem overreaching.
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