Swans | The Great Annihilator | Review
This music is both grandiose and meticulously detailed.
For nearly two decades, Swans have pursued their own vision despite fickle fans who don't want them to change, critics who don't really listen and several indifferent record labels. But they have faith in the compelling power of their work, and remain undaunted by trends and pointless expectations. The group's newest album, The Great Annihilator, as always, demands an open ear. Put too much faith in the printed word and you might think the lyrics excessively weighty. You might wish the beat was less static, that the vocals were more varied, that the mood a bit more optimistic. Which only means you'd be happier with the Go-Go's. This music is both grandiose and meticulously detailed; rather than pop's recklessly forward momentum and instant gratification, Swans write pensive songs with unflinching but subtle humor. They layer sounds rather than put the melodies up front, giving lines of chiming guitars as much weight as the trance-like drumming or the direct vocals. The cumulative result is beguiling and moving. "She Lives!" is a series of moody, minor-key tumbles between sparse piano chords, distorted guitar riffs and Michael Gira's tense vocals. "Mother/Father" could almost be an offbeat club hit with it's danceable (but eccentric) rhythm, Jarboe's weaving vocals (and screams) and the sheer sonic splendor of massed guitars. Though destiny to be as underrated as other Swans' albums, The Great Annihilator is compelling, thoughtful music and a good way to enter the Swans' unique world.