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Swans - Greed CD (album) cover

GREED

Swans

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.48 | 27 ratings

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TCat
3 stars So after 2 full length albums and several E.P.s, Swans had established themselves as a loud, churning, dark and sludgy industrial punk sound with primitive rhythms and sounds and very hard to understand lyrics. Swans was a big underground hit and the fans knew what to expect, simple, repetitive tunes that made you feel like you were not just in a funeral dirge, but were being dragged behind the procession in the mud face down. Imagine their surprise when they heard the first track on this album "Greed".

Immediately, they knew a something had changed. What is this....a piano? And this sounds like Gira singing, but I can actually understand what he is chanting/singing. With this album, the slow change had started in Swans overall sound. Though it sounded quite drastic on the first track, even though it is still dark and repetitive, the band was ready to explore new ground.

Like I said, the album starts out with the song "Fool", a dissonant and heavy piano leading the way with the guitar providing background sounds, no hammering percussion and there are lyrics that you can understand. Yes they are still depressing and bleak and the vocals are dissonant and heavy, but there is an obvious change. After that, the sound turns back to the industrial slow dirge- like beat that the fans were used to, but the sound is not a full return to the overall sound from before. The lyrics are easier to decipher and the music isn't as unrelenting. The repetition follows throughout the album, but the lyrics are so much more hard hitting now that you can understand them.

There are some new things the band is trying here too. This is the first album to feature vocals from Jarboe, even though she is a background singer on the 2 tracks she sings on. The title track plods on for almost 3 and a half minutes with wordless vocals, more like a moan/gasp sound from Jarboe, before Gira starts to sing. The closest thing to the previous sound is on the track "Heaven" which, even though it isn't as loud as before, it is the slowest grind of the album with Gira doing his groaning/moaning/singing/droning as before. He's singing about "This is Heaven" like he is pissed about being there. Quite frankly, this is the most evil sounding of all of the tracks, but it is also the most progressive. You will get the odd looks if you play this in public, so yes, it is reminiscent of their previous material. The last track on the original album is "Money is Flesh" which uses a synthesizer playing the main riff instead of the guitar, but other than that, it still pounds it's way into your a brain like a sledgehammer.

So, it's repetitive and overall still quite loud and grinding. But there have been some levers inserted into the music and you see a band starting to develop and pull itself out of the muck of their previous punk-ish version of industrial music. The music would continue to develop with each album after this and things would get better. As the band approaches more of a post-punk, mathcore sound, the music slowly gets better until they actually and surprisingly begin to produce some very innovative music. But as far as this album, it's still a long way from where they would end up. But it is interesting to hear where they came from and how they developed. This is better than previous albums, but not by much. I have to give them props though for having the courage to develop their music and their talents. This is progression, but not yet progressive. I will give this 3 stars simply because it is an attempt to try new things for the band. But it's still not easy to listen to too often.

TCat | 3/5 |

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