Release Date: 28/08/2012
Label: Young Gods
Eleven albums in and an existence spanning thirty years, Swans returns with brand new album The Seer. Swans is known for bringing volume and heaviness into their sound, and bringing the vomit out of poor fans who willingly attend live shows. The Seer is the second album to be released following the band’s fourteen year hiatus, and well, it’s certainly going to mess with your head.
The Seer is two hours long, is a double CD and features three tracks that span over the fifteen minute mark. Listeners might just get a headache alone from reading how long some of these tracks are, but they can remedy that by getting warped into the witchcraft-like chant that encompasses the whole of opening track Lunacy. If you’re not a fan of repetition, you might want to turn away now.
The thick atmosphere of Lunacy formed by a relentless chant of “Lunacy! Lunacy!” and the dirty production behind the background noise of chains and other medieval equipment strikes fear into the listener’s ears as Swans introduces itself in the most unfriendly manner possible.
Mother Of The World follows and drags along with the same two guitar notes over and over again, contorting the listener’s mind into visions of a torture chamber, forced to listen to these notes until they cannot bear anymore. The track is ten minutes long and decides not to change up at all, just the same guitar notes while some drums play around in the background. We’re treated to some muffled vocals too, just to help ease the terror of course, and finally gifted an end to the guitar at the five minute mark, given some almost pop-like instrumentation instead.
And yet there’s something that wants me to carry on listening, as if The Seer has become some kind of sick test to see who can claw their way to the end of it. It’s chilling, haunting and downright terrifying, and yet the sounds it makes keeps me hooked onto it.
Disc two starts off on a much more pleasant high, as Swans rewards the listener with Song For A Warrior, a track name that could very easily refer to the listener after sitting through the entirety of disc 1. The track is lovely, and features Karen O on vocals, and everything about it is just a utopia compared to the previous seven tracks. A great surprise for listeners.
Infact disc two seems to ease off a little bit for the listener, hiding some of the scary elements and torturous instrumentation and concentrating more on producing some catchy melodies instead. This is a welcome change of pace as it really helps distinguish the difference between the two CDs and provide a good answer as to why Swans chose to make The Seer a double album.
The Seer is certainly one hell of a listening experience, and one that everybody should try out for sure. It has it’s moments of pure insanity, yet manages to come across as somewhat catchy. Swans have created a beast with this record, but my god, isn’t it great?