Swans
The Great Annihilator


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adash USER (43 Reviews)
May 31st, 2009 | 117 replies | 26,672 views


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The wisdom contained in the telepathy of fear Solidified our suffering into the droning sound I still hear

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

Hypnotic. If there's one word to describe Swans, that's it. Throughout their 15 year existence they excelled at writing songs that were the aural equivalent of a black hole – they would suck you in and never let go. Though the music evolved radically from album to album, Swans' ability to craft mesmerizing songs and soundscapes never changed. Musically Greed and Holy Money had little in common with the pop tinged The Burning World; yet play any song off any album and you can instantly recognize it as the work of one of the world's most unrecognized bands.

Of course it helps that Michael Gira has one of the most distinctive voices of all time, but even if you strip away the vocals the underlying music is still always captivating, and never more so than on the The Great Annihilator.

One can regard it as a melting pot - by taking various elements from their back catalogue and fusing them Swans created perhaps the most cohesive album of their career. The album is best listened to in one go - only then can you appreciate how well the various musical idea's fit together, providing variety but never disrupting continuity e.g. the soft post rock build up of the gorgeous Warm leads into the industrial blast of Alcohol the Seed; that it adds to the flow of the album instead of detracting from it is testament to Gira's brilliant songwriting.

As with many of Swans albums the instrumentation serves to enhance the vocals, taking a backseat to Gira's and Jarboe's lyrical stylings.
Where it does take the spotlight it shines; the tug and pull between guitar and drums during the last minute of Telepathy whilst bells ring out over the top is one of the albums more memorable highlights.
In other places, it is used to add to the emotive effect of the vocals – an outstanding example being the first verse of Killing for Company, where the chorus laden bass appears occasionally to enhance Gira's guitar and vocals, with spine tingling results.

The seamless interplay between the instruments, most noticeably between the pounding drums and droning guitar, helps create what can only be described as the Swans' atmosphere, something that people who know the band will be familiar with.

Whilst the instrumentation is of a uniformly high standard, the vocals are undoubtedly the highlight of this album. Gira's half sung, half spoken bass crooning is as powerful as ever, and is the foundation upon which this album is built.

Lyrically he's excellent, and the effect created by his words is simply stunning. Hearing "All the children want to suck in the taste...she's just a drug addiction and a self reflecting image of a narcotized mind" is particularly poignant, and even more so whilst walking past the Leicester Square premiere of High School Musical 3.

Jarboe's individual contributions are as eclectic and interesting as they've always been, ranging from the agonised roar of Mother Father to the simple beauty of Mother's Milk.

On the occasion that the two overlap, the power of the music is increased tenfold: at the end of Killing for Company nonsensical sounds are intertwined to produce one of the most stunningly unique climaxes this reviewer has ever heard.

It was Swans' ability to constantly innovate whilst remaining true to their roots that helped them develop their unique sound. This, their penultimate album, was the culmination of over a decade of fierce individuality, disillusionment with the record industry and raw power, tempered by experience and musical ability.

Because of the above balance, The Great Annihilator is one of the undiscovered gems of the 90's, which undoubtedly would have been the bands swansong if it hadn't been justifiably eclipsed by the colossal Soundtracks for the Blind, which cemented their place as the shadowy giants of underground rock.

Swans have influenced everyone from Scott Kelly to Charlie Looker to Maynard James Keenan and as such should be compulsory listening for anyone who likes "alternative" music of any form.

It's a shame that no one I've met seems to have heard of them…



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user ratings (345)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Adash
May 31st 2009



1356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

tips and suggestions would be greatly appreciated
more people need to listen to this band
x

joshuatree
Emeritus
May 31st 2009



3743 Comments


yes more people need to listen to this band
although this is one of their weaker records

gaslightanthem
May 31st 2009



5209 Comments


band rules

illmitch
May 31st 2009



5429 Comments


i've never listened to any swans albums post-greed/holy money, are they as good as filth and cop?

joshuatree
Emeritus
May 31st 2009



3743 Comments


post-greed swans are completely different but yeah they're good

CompanionCube
May 31st 2009



977 Comments


best place to start?


thebhoy
Emeritus
May 31st 2009



4459 Comments


this band is a little too much for me to handle at times, other times they're awesome.

BallsToTheWall
May 31st 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Swans is a band I really need to delve into. On the other hand, Jarboe's latest album rocks pretty hard.

kitsch
May 31st 2009



5107 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

swans are kickass

fireaboveicebelow
June 1st 2009



6837 Comments


I just found this the other day for $6 and it's great, but a lot to take in

illmitch
June 1st 2009



5429 Comments


if you think this is bad you should listen to old swans

Altmer
June 1st 2009



5652 Comments


I love Children of God and White Light but that is pretty much all the Swans I've heard.

Mendigo
June 1st 2009



2299 Comments


one of the world's most unrecognized bands

true word.

kitsch
June 1st 2009



5107 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"if you think this is bad you should listen to old swans"

i love filth

illmitch
June 1st 2009



5429 Comments


i figured youd be familiar with their back catalog, i mean the people who think this is harsh

Prophet178
January 11th 2010



6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm glad my 'Swans Reform' news article got deleted for no apparent reason. Probably the best news of the new year thus far.

Lelle
June 24th 2010



2150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Jacob Bannon is a fan of these guys I should probably look into them

Spare
June 24th 2010



5250 Comments


I'm glad my 'Swans Reform' news article got deleted for no apparent reason. Probably the best news of the new year thus far.
holy shit swans are back together?

Digging: Radiator Hospital - Torch Song

Adash
June 25th 2010



1356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee boooooooooooooiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

Adash
October 18th 2010



1356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

what coons been negging this pleasantly inoffensive and wholely not bad review?



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