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Swans - Greed CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.34 | 23 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Sothoth
3 stars It should be apparent that SWANS' inclusion within this site has little to do with this era of their discography, but Greed is certainly a significant album in terms of their development, and when this band is brought up amongst fellow ale-enthusiasts at my favorite watering hole, I tend to find that it's their early releases up through Children Of God that seem to garner the most attention, as these releases are remembered by underground enthusiasts of the 80's fondly for their notoriety and demented character.

As far as Greed is concerned, their sound had evolved from the crushing noise-fests of their prior full-lengths and the Young God EP by some adventurousness in instrumentation and style. "Fool" is a a percussion-less opener with a piano being the main instrument embellished with smatterings of guitar providing an extra layer of "melody" so to speak. Quite a surprise for fans who followed their trajectory I'm sure. What it lacks though in musical ferocity is compensated by the sheer emotional anguish presented by Gira's unapologetically blunt lyrics, dire and sadomasochistic.

"I'll cut off my right hand and stand in your shadow."

Not a typical song about devotion. These bizarre proclamations work due to Gira's vocal delivery, quite direct with an imposing tone. Nothing comes across as 'whiny' as throughout this release his voice alternates between baritone 'spoken word' recitement and harrowing bellows. The music for each tune is generally repetitive, stretching a singular idea throughout a song's entirety, which can become daunting in some cases. After the opener, things get heavier, emboldened by a powerful warhammer drum sound and guitars that often act like another percussion instrument rather than a source of melody. "Nobody" is a notable track in that it marks the introduction of female vocalist Jarboe into their fold, although she's regulated to haunting back-up vocals in a song that sounds practically ritualistic in nature. Very creepy and effective, and followed by the abrasive "Stupid Child" that bears strong 'industrial' characteristics and a sinister demeanor..

The sparse simplicity of some of these songs harbor a coldness that resonates well in providing a bleak atmosphere for the equally repetitive and seemingly straightforward lyrics, such as when Gira desperately roars "WE'RE IN HEAVEN!!!" as if it's the last place he wished to find himself. Like a jail cell.

It's not the sort of album I find myself listening to a whole lot, since each song makes its point early on and sometimes I find myself waiting for it to finish so I can get to the next hellish vision. The title track is pretty spooky (another featuring Jarboe on back-up vocals), but it really starts to wear out its welcome after a few minutes.

I generally do like playing this mean bugger on occasion, although regarding the "dollar sign" full-lengths, I tend to prefer Holy Money. Still, Greed possesses a few keepers, and makes for great listening at work as you can watch the morale of your coworkers deflate with each passing tune. It's an experiment I recommend trying at least once since the clarity of the tortured lyrics combined with the crawling waves of borderline musical accompaniment registers immediate impact on the unwary.

Prog Sothoth | 3/5 |


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