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Swans - White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.74 | 65 ratings

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Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars By this album, the Swans have made the complete shift from that dark, heavy and muddy sludge rock to a more gothic prog rock. I add the word prog in there because the music is a step above the typical goth rock, it is well produced, but with some elements of surprise added in. They have not yet arrived to being a full on Post Rock band yet, but you can hear that the transition is coming.

As far as Goth Rock goes, I am not a huge fan of it except for some occasional songs. I do love this album however, because it is so well done, so atmospheric, and it still has plenty of variety throughout it's tracks. Michael Gira's vocals are more melodic now and he has actually become a decent singer utilizing dynamics. Jerboe has also become a bigger contributor to the music. She balances out Gira's deep and occasionally rough vocals, and you can hear her sing more background when she is not doing the occasional lead vocals. She is also in charge of orchestral and choral arrangements and contributing keyboards.

The percussion is powerful on this album, and is not at all pushed to that background as is the case with many goth-rock bands. Dynamics are used better than ever before. And each track has it's own personality. There is darkness, but there is also light. There is heaviness, but there is also softness. There is also a lot of supporting musicians on this album, which helps immensely with the overall sound on each track. Yes, things have changed in a big way for this amazing band.

The album starts out with 'Better than You' and 'Power and Sacrifice'. Both of these are quite upbeat with Gira singing lead and Jerboe evening things out in the background. They are both songs that are heavy in percussion and tone, yet not heavy in a hard rock kind of way, but more of a scary, dark, almost vampiric way. Next, 'You Know Nothing' is quite a bit more quieter, with a nice use of dynamics through the track. This is where things are more emotional and rise above the typical Goth sound. After this, Jerboe takes the lead with her beautiful breathy vocals on the surprisingly beautiful and lush 'Song for a Dead Time'. On this song, I can really hear the balance she gives to the overall sound.

'Will We Survive' has a prog introduction that gives us a foreshadowing of what the future of Swans will be when the go into full progressive mode in a few years. This is a nice dramatic and majestic song, with the instrumentals driving the song forward. At the last part of the song, brightness comes in to the almost Celtic march feel in the form of chimes. This is a nice surprise since previous Swans albums tended to be quite dark all the way through, even during the early transition stage. 'Love Will Save You' on the other hand, sounds more like music from a spaghetti western. You can close your eyes and almost picture The Man With No Name (Clint Eastwood) riding into town to this music, and his character now has a name'.love? Not really the name I expected, but you can believe it during this song.

'Failure' is a weaker track that loses it's believability as Gira uses spoken word in place of a melody for the most part, and it's almost embarrassingly funny. You would think he would have the voice for this style, but it doesn't work for him on this track. It's more pathetic than it is atmospheric especially with the sparseness of the instrumentation on the track. 'Song for the Sun' has a sort of 50-60s vibe, but more in the 'Leader of the Pack' style than the 'California Girls' style. Even with the break in the middle where things slow down for a while, this song drags on a little too long, even if it's only 5 minutes long.

There is a return to form and fineness on the lush and orchestral 'Miracle of Love'. Halfway through, the peacefulness of the track suddenly changes to a very progressive and exciting instrumental. This one gives you a good indication as to where the Swans' music is going on later albums. Excellent track. If there were more tracks like this on this album, it would have easily been a 5 star album. Jerboe takes the lead vocals on the cinematic 'When She Breaths', and once again her vocals are soft and breathy, but this time with more range.

'Why Are We Alive' has a long instrumental introduction and then tries to be atmospheric and pensive, but misses the mark. 'The Most Unfortunate Lie' utilizes a 6/4 meter to end the album. Again, Gira tries spoken word, but succeeds this time because it is mixed with melody later on. This time it is more effective and is a great way to end an emotional album.

For the most part, this album has a lot of successes, but there are some weak tracks too that tend to bring it down. Fortunately, the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses, making this an excellent album. If you don't mind Gira's deep vocals, you will love the musicianship and songwriting overall. But his vocals fit with the style of music quite well, and they are easy to adjust to because of that. Plus you have Jerboe providing softer vocals that even everything out. This album truly feels like the light at the end of a dark tunnel, and it is amazing to hear the transition of the band.

TCat | 4/5 |


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