Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Swans - Swans Are Dead CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.85 | 17 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
4 stars This 2 CD package served as official notice that the Swans were no more, following their 1997 opus Soundtracks for the Blind. This is a live album documenting two different tours - disc one is from 1997 and disc two is from 1995 (the latter promoting the Great Annihilator album). The Swans sound has always relied upon space - with each sound they make seeming to have a certain size and mass, such is the physicality of their music. For this reason, I've always thought that live albums generally do a better job at capturing their sound - for just about any era of their music, I've found a live album that gets a lot more plays than the studio albums they surround. And so, this live album for me supplants the mid to late 90s Swans material, the period during which what would be known as "post-rock" was a significant part of their sound. And since that genre of music is so reliant upon space anyway, all the more reason to hear this album to see just how huge the Swans could be.

The 1997 disc opens, as do many of their concerts, with a very long, slowly building piece: in this case "Feel Happiness", a track I don't think appears on any other Swans album. Then "Low Life Form" shows us a Swans rendition of a Michael Gira solo song (released on Drainland, well worth checking out). We also get a Jarboe solo song ("Hypogirl") and a couple of Great Annihilator songs. The closer, "Blood Promise", is greatly extended and far different from its studio counterpart, offering another of their by now common depression epics.

The 1995 disc has, oddly enough, a focus on 1997 material, or at least material that would form the backbone of 1997's Soundtracks for the Blind: "The Sound", "The Final Sacrifice", and "Helpless Child" are all here, as awesome as you'd hope, and together take up nearly 40 minutes of the show. Jarboe once again takes a few solo spots as well. Sound quality for both shows is excellent.

If I could only recommend one 1990s Swans album, this would be it. It doesn't really hit the early 90s material at all, nor the Burning World period, but I'm personally okay with that, there are other live albums covering that period. There's a live Swans album for almost any occasion, in fact. And Gira can keep putting out live albums and I'll be a happy guy - he also understands that the passion the band puts out on stage is just not something that comes off the same way in the studio, not for them at least.

HolyMoly | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this SWANS review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.