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CHILDREN OF GOD

Swans

Post Rock/Math rock


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Swans Children Of God album cover
4.33 | 81 ratings | 4 reviews | 34% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music


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Studio Album, released in 1987

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. New Mind (5:13)
2. In My Garden (5:34)
3. Our Love Lies (5:50)
4. Sex, God, Sex (6:49)
5. Blood And Honey (4:46)
6. Like A Drug (Sha La La La) (5:36)
7. You're Not Real, Girl (4:21)
8. Beautiful Child (5:16)
9. Blackmail (3:34)
10. Trust Me (5:23)
11. Real Love (6:23)
12. Blind Love (7:46)
13. Children Of God (4:34)

Total time 71:05

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Gira / lead vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar, "sounds" & production
- (Jane) Jarboe / lead & backing vocals, piano, "sounds"
- Norman Westberg / electric & acoustic guitars
- Algis Kizys / bass
- Theodore Parsons / drums, percussion

With:
- Simon Fraser / flute (2)
- Audrey Riley / cello (6)
- Lindsay Cooper / oboe (9,10)
- William Barnhardt / piano (10)

Releases information

Artwork: Paul White/Me Company with Michael Gira (concept & design)

2xLP Caroline Records - CAROL 1346 (1987, US)

CD Caroline Records ‎- CAR 01346-2 (1987, US)

Thanks to The Truth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy SWANS Children Of God Music


Children Of GodChildren Of God
Reissued · Remastered
YOUNG GOD RECORDS 2016
$166.03
$24.99 (used)
Children Of GodChildren Of God
Caroline / Product 1990
$59.97 (used)
Children Of God by Swans (2003-05-03)Children Of God by Swans (2003-05-03)
YOUNG GOD
$224.34 (used)

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SWANS Children Of God ratings distribution


4.33
(81 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(34%)
34%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
41%
Good, but non-essential (15%)
15%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

SWANS Children Of God reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
5 stars The 'prog' versus 'progressive' label has never hit home to me more than this release. Children Of God, to me, is not only one of the best albums I've ever heard, but also one of the most important in regards to my own development as a fan of rock music itself. Decades later, there's been no shortage of bands incorporating styles akin to certain tracks off this album and even developing them further, but back in 1987 this release was such a unique beast for its time, equal parts beautiful and monstrous...unlike anything I was used to.

The most obvious development of the band at this point was the increase in Jarboe's presence vocally, as well as the haunting ballads interspersed throughout the album. Heavy industrial sounding monolith "New Mind" is followed by the ethereal yet eventually eerie piece "In My Garden", proclaiming this album to be an experience in which how the next track will sound would be anyone's guess. I was hooked by this point during my inception by this time.

There are two different versions of "Our Love Lies" that I know of, in which the original heavy bluesy Caroline Records version that I own on cassette is superior to the more folksy version found on re-releases. Hopefully, subsequent re-releases will retrieve the original version to its rightful place within this album.

About the instrumentation...it's perfect in establishing a mood in an almost trance-like way, not as something to scrutinize technically. That isn't important here, but the compositions themselves are worthy of praise for their unsettling nature. From the haunting creepiness of the Jarboe sung "Blood And Honey" to the ferocious pulpit bombast of "Beautiful Child" to the tranquil beauty of "Blackmail", there's such variety of sounds and ideas going on while maintaining an almost singular theme that its almost hard to believe that the band were able to pull this off without coming across like a band in transition. They weren't. SWANS were on fire at this point. Just about everything mattered, with only "Like A Drug" being a bit off-putting to me, but not enough to lesson the overall power of this release and all of its sublime qualities.

In 1987 my musical interests had shifted so far away from the prog rock I was into during the early 80's to crossover thrash metal to such an extent that I was due for something different, and Children Of God was my catalyst. Not only did I embrace this album, I drifted into non-metal music that retained a gloomy aura and subsequently even branched out into delicate music in general as well as other forms of rock that I had ditched for a few years. Floyd became relevant again, and while I never stopped listening to metal...in fact I delved deeper to the more extreme side of things (in which early SWANS stuff arguably could be seen as an influence), my interest in progressive and experimental styles of music went ballistic in the late 80's and continues to this day.

Outside of my own personal growth, the merits of this album may be a little off-putting for some, but the creative aspects involved in this recording shouldn't be denied. Gira based his boisterous vocals on Southern preachers and the effects these fire and brimstone preaching types held over their congregation, and he pulls it off with aplomb, matched by Jarboe's unnerving vibrato.

Equal parts venomous and tranquil, Children Of God remains my favorite album of there's, and while each tune carries a sort of pin-pointed impact, as a whole this album captures a lot of emotions and atmosphere that very few have equaled in my own experience while growing up in the 80's, and it resonates strongly still whenever I feel the urge for the primal currents of power, fear, glory and destitution that surge throughout this opus. Whether it's essential or not is your decision, but to me it's a masterpiece regardless of whatever terminology of "progressive" one chooses to utilize.

Review by TCat
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This album sees a lot of improvement in the sound of Swans. There is still a lot of loud guitar, but it's not dirty and unrefined like the first albums. But it is till heavy, that is, when it is heavy. Now the Swans are branching out to explore other things.

Swans is music in the extreme, previously loud, hard and heavy, but now that wall of sound is breaking up a lot, the lyrics are a lot more understandable, but they are still just as dark. Never has the label extreme music been evident as much though as on this album. The first track is on the heavy, loud and metallic like you would expect, but the 2nd track sung by Jarboe is on the extreme soft side. I wouldn't call it minimalistic, but it's like a completely different world, except for the lyrics which remain dark. This contrast continues through the album, with Michael Gira mostly leading the loud tracks while Jarboe leads the softer tracks. If you haven't heard Gira's voice, imagine a voice as deep and dark as the lead singer from Bauhaus and then go down about 5 notches. We're talking "John Wayne" deep. So his singing is really without much of a melody. But it works here. Jarboe however, is more dynamic and has quite an impressive range, though she typically on this album stays within the same range within a song. I was actually surprised at how low her register can go as in the song "Blood and Honey".

In the past, the instruments were quite repetitive, churning out heavy riffs at extreme volume. I find in this release, the instruments are still repetitive, but now that the wall of noise is broken down, you can hear the band experimenting with new sounds and new timbres. On this album, you get surprise appearances of a flute, an oboe, a harmonica, strings and you also get background vocals.

Even though this all makes the album sound more accessible than their earlier albums, believe me, it's not. This is dark music and it is still extreme, just not as loud as before. To appreciate the music here, you have to make a commitment to listen. This album is all about contrast, the contrast of good and evil, or maybe, there isn't really a contrast at all. You have to listen to get the nuances of this music, the brilliance of it and this appreciation doesn't just come on one listen. It takes time. But it is good and it is progressive and it is original. Are you ready for it? This is not your mother's prog and she is not going to save you once you click the "play" button. This is one of the landmark Swan albums, and remember there just wasn't anything out there that was like this when it came out, especially in alternative music. I have to go with 5 stars on this, but that doesn't mean it is for everybody, so be warned.

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The culmination of Swans' early post-punk no wave era offers up what is, for the most part, a unique sonic experience. Not entirely - album opener New Mind sounds like The Fall so much I swear that Michael Gira is doing some sort of Mark E. Smith impersonation on the vocals. Dark post-punk nearly-gothic music running down religion isn't exactly rare, but music which sounds like it's full on dead and rotting on the inside like some sort of sonic zombie is a whole other deal. It's no surprise that from here they went down the full-on gothic neofolk route they took from The Burning World onwards, because this takes their early sound about as far as it can go without descending into absurd self-parody.
Review by Kempokid
COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
5 stars Children Of God marks the first large shift within the core sound of Swans, incorporating more dynamic compositions, no longer having every song consisting of a single, heavy beat and the tortured screaming and moaning of Michael Gira. While this change woud already be leaps forward than their last 4 albums, Jarboe's increased presence on the album leads to a more varied listen, with acoustic guitars and beautiful pianos permeating particular tracks. The tone has shifted as well, no longer being just harrowing and violent, now adding a lot of eeriness to the overall sound, along with being much darker in general.

New Mind opens the album by displaying the maturation of Swans' sound, by having it sonically very similar to past albums, with heavy, filthy industrial beats that continuously hammer their way into your head, but this time with a more powerful feel to it, due to the presence of keyboards in the background providing a much more grandiose feel, while still having the crushing drums as the main focus. I also love the vocal performance here, with the first time I heard Gira gradually raise the volume and intensity of the phrase "Damn you to hell" with each repetition being absolutely mind blowing to me. After the crushingly heavy opener, the album then completely shifts gears and brings forth the haunting beauty of In My Garden, which is the antithesis to New Mind in many ways, having the same sort of structure of simple repetition, but instead using acoustic guitars and pianos, creating a sense of isolation heightened by the ethereal vocals of Jarboe. This works extremely well as the followup to one of the most intense pieces of music on the album, along with creating an extreme unpredicability in the album that is maintained throughout. Our Love Lies begins to establish one of the constants on the album, the gospel tinge to the songs, most clear in the form of the backing vocals. This fairly pretty song in its own twisted way then transitions into Sex God Sex, which has a similar riff, but with the heavy drums and electric guitars coming in at full force, with a strong focus on the extremely sludgy roots of the band, complete with a vocal performance that sounds utterly exhausted, strained, and defeated, especially noticeable when Gira sounds as if he's shouting out to the heavens, not in anger, but in utter desparation.

Blood and Honey is one of the more impressive songs on the album, having a certain eeriness to it, along with sounding slightly like a precursor to the opening section of She Loves Us. Jarboe's vocals go far lower than I expected here, matching the sort of unsettling tone that Gira's voice provides. Like A Drug (Sha La La) is another incredible track, showing off the more unhinged, insane side of the band, with a heavy, rhythmic riff consisting of a single note, as abrasive brass blares in the background, complete with an abolutely wild chorus. You're Not Real, Girl is a melancholy song that while not having quite the same impact as some other songs, is nonetheless great.

Beautiful Child is by far my absolute favourite song on the album and one of my favourites by the band in general. Nothing before or after has terrified me in quite the same way as the raw aggression and emotion of this song, with my favourite vocal performance by the band. with Gira's voice being pushed to its absolute limit as Jarboe wails away in the background, with instruments being repetitive and fasted aced, along with utterly brutal. Just like with the first 2 tracks, this piece of utterly harrowing terror is followed by one of the most calm tunes in order to provide respite after the utter bombardment of the previous one. Trust Me definitely had one of the biggest impacts on me upon first listen, starting off sounding like another mellow track before descending into the deepest pits of utter darkness, with atmosphere so thick that its palpable. The final three tracks make for an incredible closer, with Real Love being the pinnacle of melancholy songwriting the album has to offer, with a certain likeness to a Nick Cave song. This segues into Blind Love, a more groovy, beat driven track that lacks most of the negative energy surrounding the album, instead being extremely minimalistic, slowly building with a guitar scratch here and there, but never quite reaching the intensity of others, making it a good way to start closing off the album, as another track the Likes of Beautiful Child at this point wouldn't be the wisest of ideas. The title track closes off the album with a drone that while sounding somewhat optimistic, also clearly carries a lot of darkness with it, and is another one of my favourites off the album.

This is what I consider to be the first masterpiece of Swans, fully realising their heavy industrial sound, adding complexity that was absent before, while still being able to maintain the oppressive atmosphere and sound of the band, along with at points, a lot of its volume. The softer passages provide a contrast from the constant intensity, allowing the moments in which the music crescendoes to become even more impactful. This would definitely be a decent starting point into Swans' discography, although this is still a far cry from something even mildly accessible.

Best songs: New Mind, Blood and Honey, Like A Drug (Sha La La), Beautiful Child, Trust Me, Real Love, Children of God

Weakest songs: none

Verdict: While this album is not accessible at all, I highly recommend that those who enjoy extremely intense music listen to this immediately, as I found myself absolutely floored at many points throughout, with particular mention going to Beautiful Child, one of the most intense songs I've ever heard.

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