Swans
Soundtracks for the Blind


5.0
classic

Review

by Alxander19 USER (5 Reviews)
March 20th, 2012 | 30 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You'll never escape.

Isn't it startling how great albums get overlooked? Swans have been around since the early 80's, took a 14 year break, and returned in 2010. This album, understandably, caused the 14 year hiatus. One listen, and you understand, and you're grateful they took the break. For this is quite possibly the most uncomfortably honest and unflinching album I've ever heard, a traumatic experience that bares all and shies away from nothing. To the lyrics, to the music, to the vocals, this is a demanding and tumultous listen.

For such a demanding and draining album, it's positively exhilirating how captivating Soundtracks For The Blind manages to be over such a long runtime. It's exhilirating in a bone cold way, a horrific experience you can't peel yourself away from, because you know what you're hearing is always painfully true. Over 26 tracks, frontman Gira lays out everything, with lurid power that sound like monologues of the damned. Defeated, angry, desolate, obsessive, violent, needy, sad. He runs through every emotion possible and consistently delivers gut-churning prose.

For the stark and brilliant lyrics, the music is right there to match it in all its nightmarish glory. Splotched and spliced and alternately tuneless and strangely catchy, it's near impossible to say what genre this album comes out on. It's painstakingly detailed, white hot bursts of noise augmenting an atmosphere so thick its presence is almost physically felt. For so many songs, spread over 2 long discs, it's stunning how varied, well-crafted, and memorable every song is (Mellothumb is honestly the only exception.) It's so hard to pick individual songs when the entire body of work is so flawless and affecting. "Volcano"'s freakishly unsexy musings, sounding like the dance anthem of hell, always grinding while the waveringly pretty female vocals sing atop it. "Red Velvet Wound"'s disembodied and yet still tuneful sound, leading right into the behemoth "The Sound", which can only be described in superlatives such as magnificent, epic, bloodcurdling.

All of this leads up to what is undeniably the climax of the album, "The Final Sacrifice." A long industrial buildup sets the stage for the most harrowing moments of this album, as Gira gives one of the most vitriolic and unhinged vocal performances I've ever heard, literally spitting and spewing like a madman who has lost control. This is the embodiment of what this record is: Disturbing, awe-inspiring, unnerving. This is such a psychologically and emotionally upsetting album that it's a hard sell, but one listen and it slips into you like an unseen knife, overwhelming in it's power and harsh truths. This is more than music. This album has the freakish and moving power and lasting effect of a true work of art. This is an experience that transports, hypnotizes, and haunts you. You'll never escape.


user ratings (576)
Chart.
4.4
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other reviews of this album
YoYoMancuso (5)
"There's been a lot of upsetting, very upsetting things, that I can't allow to happen anymore. I hav...

Cam EMERITUS (4.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Alxander19
March 19th 2012


123 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

First review. Reads like a poor string of hyperbole meh

chaos17
March 19th 2012


296 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hyperbole is the only accurate way to describe this album. Excellent review. Pos'd.

Digging: Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World

Alxander19
March 19th 2012


123 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ah, thanks man, and I agree haha

wabbit
March 19th 2012


7004 Comments


great album

balcaen
March 19th 2012


3183 Comments


my only gripe with this album is the length. takes ages to absorb fully.
honestly good review for a first. welcome to sputnik, mate.

though just as a tip, to sound a little less colloquial, try not to use the pronoun "I", we understand reviews are subjective. no need to specify that this is how you feel, specifically. 'you' is one reviewers stay away from as well.
not that much of an issue here, though. flows pretty well.

Alxander19
March 19th 2012


123 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks for the constructive criticism man, much appreciated.

Alxander19
March 19th 2012


123 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yes it is

Activista anti-MTV
March 19th 2012


3144 Comments


cool man

static2dope
March 19th 2012


898 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this album fucks me in the ass when im on drugs


solid review, welcome to sputnik

Alxander19
March 19th 2012


123 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

hahah i feel ya on that static

Manic_
March 19th 2012


447 Comments


a couple of spelling errors, tumultuous in the first paragraph and exhilarating in the second.

"Splotched and spliced and alternately tuneless and strangely catchy"
i think this should be rephrased.

good first review and a fantastic album.

Yazz_Flute
March 20th 2012


18787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is really well-written, especially for a first review.

I prefer the first disc much to the second but to be fair that may just be because of the immense length.

Digging: Finch (US) - Say Hello to Sunshine

Palimpsest
March 20th 2012


77 Comments


Swans is a great band. More people should know them.

Samizdat
March 20th 2012


301 Comments


Everyone knows...that you...are fucked up.

And everyone knows...that I am fucked up.

But...does everyone know...that you are more fucked up...than me?

Samizdat
March 20th 2012


301 Comments


This is sounding up to be the quickest 5 I'll have ever given.

Alxander19
March 20th 2012


123 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's like impossible for me to choose between disc 1 and 2, but disc 2 has The Sound AND The Final Sacrifice, so I think it's the tiniest bit better.

Alxander19
March 20th 2012


123 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I definitely agree that they compliment each other very well. Best double album I've ever heard.

Adash
March 20th 2012


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Now get Swans are Dead, best live album ever

DoubtGin
March 20th 2012


6752 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

and every other swans album?

Samizdat
March 20th 2012


301 Comments


Is The Fragile better than The Downward Spiral, 'cause that's a hit-or-miss mood album at least with me.



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