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4 stars This one is something of a sequel to White Light From the Mouth of Infinity, and its packaging and reissue history is a big clue to that; the two albums went out of print for a long while until they got reissued on a compilation with each other and a bunch of bonus tracks from the same era recently, and the cover art shows the bunny from the cover of White Light coming to a bad end.

Musically, the group continue their bid to combine commercially viable gothic rock with their particular brand of post- punk miserablism, but they get a little more experimental with it, with results which are a bit mixed but end up being interesting to listen to (even if the bid for commercial viability seems to have collapsed). Even when they start threatening to get into, say, something resembling the more conventional Melvins songs or perhaps something the Pixies might have picked up on, they end up falling back into their old weirder ways, with some tracks resurrecting the stark industrial noisy doom sound of their early releases at disconcerting moments. Worth a dabble, but kind of falls between two stools.

Report this review (#1560972)
Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2016 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars I personally am someone who isn't too keen on the middle neofolk/gothic era of Swans, while The Burning World managed to have a nice balance between beauty and solemnity, the following 2 albums, White Light From The Mouth of Infinity and this one, Love of Life, both ring somewhat hollow for me. It's fairly clear that this album is a continuation of sorts from White Light due to general sound and especially the similar album covers (amazing looking ones I might add). The issue comes down ot hte fact that while these are definitely excellently produced albums full of atmosphere, the songwriting comes off as pretty samey, and not in a way that provides a good sense of cohesion, just in a way that ends up being really dull in many spots. This album is my preferred of the 2 for sure however, as there are a few more varied ideas and a more eerie, dark atmosphere in general, not just one gloomy song after another. The biggest positive about this album however, is the fact that it's 20 minutes shorter than White Light, making it immediately more appealing than it.

The album starts off extremely strongly after 17 seconds of what sounds like wind chimes with the title track, which is a continuation of the atmospheric, sweeping sound of the previous album, except more developed in terms of how densely layered everything is, the fast paced drumming, backed up by a plethora of smaller touches like light backing vocals from Jarboe, the repetitive nature of the vocals working exceptionally well and displaying a slightly more experimental edge. The Golden Boy... is a good song, albeit not really anything too incredible, just an enjoyable, dark sounding song. The untitled tracks in general just don't add too much, but the field recording elements in them definitely feel like a precursor to what would come on Soundtracks of The Blind. The Jarboe led songs have some more variation compared to on White Light as well, maintaining the fragile, ethereal nature of her vocals while being a lot less monotonous. A couple of other things about the album is that while it isn't much more to write home about, 2 other tracks really stand out, Her and Amnesia. Along with Her having more of the field recording feel to it, there's a really great crescendo that shows up near the end that ties it all together. Amnesia interests me a lot and is definitely one of my favourite songs on the album, the repetitive, pounding drum beat and the amazingly oppressive tone all culminating in an absolutely marvellous song, one of the best from their neofolk/gothic era.

Overall, I enjoy this album a lot more than Swans' previous album, the shorter length combined with a wider range of emotions and sounds really helped it flourish as the album I feel like White Light was trying to be. I'm not going to say that I'm particularly unhappy that they moved forward from this point though, definitely much less of a sad goodbye than when they moved on from their industrial/no wave sound, especially because of the albums that came past this point.

Best songs: Love of Life, Her, Amnesia

Weakest songs: The Other Side of the World, God Loves America

Verdict: A better album than their previous one, having more variation and shorter length, but still has a lot of tracks that don't really do much for me, ultimately it still contains a lot of the same elements as before, just touched up a bit to make it somewhat more appealing, in any case, it's good, but nothing particularly amazing.

Report this review (#2240447)
Posted Sunday, July 28, 2019 | Review Permalink

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