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Swans - Children Of God CD (album) cover

CHILDREN OF GOD

Swans

 

Post Rock/Math rock

4.32 | 88 ratings

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TCat
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.

TCat | 5/5 |

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