Angels of Light | We Are Him | Review | Peter Hepburn

Gira continues to produce innovative, exciting music

WE ARE HIMMichael Gira -- leader of Swans, occasional solo artist, and single best/scariest voice in rock -- is back with a new album under the Angels of Light moniker in August. As always, new M. Gira material is reason to get excited, especially now that he has the daunting task of following up the excellent Sing Other People and a split LP with Akron/Family that had us all worked up back in '05. If the title track is any indication, We Are Him looks to be another jump forward. Working with Akron/Family again, Gira seems to be moving more toward the full-band rock that much of his post-Swans material has avoided. Even though the track heads into familiar territory (especially with the droning intro), the thick rhythm section and driving pulse that Akron/Family bring with them indicates a very different Angels of Light. 

Even the best songs off Sing Other People occasionally felt somewhat like lightly-adorned Gira solo tracks; A/F were along for the ride, but they felt added-on rather than integral to the process. "We Are Him," as well as the recently posted "Black River Song," demonstrates the power of a more collaborative relationship. The band chugs along as Gira chants and preaches his way over the top. They rip through a couple of nasty solos, though, and the banshee backing vocals fit the track perfectly. Gira doesn't maintain the grim stoicism or quiet scariness that has informed so much of his solo material and earlier Angels of Light work, but at this point he's more than proven his flexibility as an artist. 25 years and good number of genre jumps after the first Swans EPs and Gira continues to produce innovative, exciting music.