Swans
The Seer


5.0
classic

Review

by G.M.B. USER (18 Reviews)
August 21st, 2012 | 305 replies | 16,380 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Even after 30 years, Swans are still at their creative peak.

13 of 13 thought this review was well written

When a group decides to return from a rather lengthy hiatus like Swans did and release a new album, there are a few possible things that can happen: 1) the album is absolutely astounding and surpasses all expectations and is comparable to the band's best work or 2) the new album, while not necessarily bad, is disappointing or 3) the album comes out horribly and falls flat on its face. In the case of Swans, the second option seems best fitting. While My Father... was by no means a bad album, (in fact it was still quite good) it seemed a bit stale in comparison to the mammoth release that preceded it 14 years before, Soundtracks for the Blind. In addition, My Father was rather short in comparison to more recent Swans albums, clocking in at a mere 44 minutes. When the announcement came that a 2 hour, 11 track double album entitled The Seer was in the works, it left fans wondering where Swans would go now.

Suffice it to say that any disappointment that My Father may have left, The Seer has more than made up for. From the opening seconds of "Lunacy" all the way through to the pounding drums that close out the last minute of "The Apostate" the album is jam packed with every bit of influence Swans have ever shown on previous albums. Everything from the softer, more acoustic sections shown on later albums to the abrasive (while there are certainly far fewer of these moments) droning that was most prevalent on Filth and Cop.

"Mother of the World" is one of the better tracks on the album, showcasing the band's ability to spend several minutes on the same drum patterns and melodies almost ad nauseum before exploding into a crescendo, only to fade away into a softer section that focuses on Gira's trademark vocals. The gargantuan title track, reaching an expansive 32 minutes, is riddled with drone elements, particularly towards the middle of the song. "The Seer" also contains the most haunting of Gira's vocals, as he repeats the mantra "I see it all" over and over and over in a monotonous tone, never once changing pitch. But perhaps the best is saved for last. Album closer "The Apostate" is the most heavy and abrasive song here. Like many other tracks before it, it takes a while to get where it's going, very steadily gaining in volume until it launches into a cacophony of clanging drums and ominous noises for several minutes. From there it seamlessly glides into a far less noisy section with a catchy bass riff and succulent drum patterns and after a while, Gira begins shouting overtop of it all. Just as the song seems as though it's fading out, thunderous drums finish out the remaining minute of the song.

There are however, a few very minute flaws with The Seer. As one could expect with tracks that extend to 20+ minutes, there are times when the longer songs drag. They don't drag in the sense that it gets dull and monotonous, but more in the sense that some of the fat could have been trimmed and the album would have benefited as a whole. The other problem is the inclusion of "Song for a Warrior." This song is by no means bad, in fact, on its own, it's quite a soothing listen. Therein lies the problem. As is the case with a lot of Swans' music, The Seer has a certain dark and haunting vibe to it, and "Song for a Warrior" is somewhat of a questionable inclusion. It takes away from the flow that the tracks before it establish, and somewhat hinders the consistency of the album.

The Seer is, in essence and in Gira's own words, "the culmination of every Swans album." The Seer is Swans at their very best and may just well be their best album yet. Everything Swans have done thus far show up somewhere to some degree throughout the 11 track behemoth. Despite a few small blemishes, Swans have proven that they are still at the top of their game. At this point, it seems unlikely that anything else in 2012 could surpass The Seer as being the best album of the year.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
ILJ
August 21st 2012



6615 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I expected this to be good, but this blew everything else out of the water.

Digging: Mastodon - Once More 'Round the Sun

ibringyoufire
August 21st 2012



351 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review. This album fuckin' rules.

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

mindleviticus
August 21st 2012



8151 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is a hundred times better than My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky and almost better than Soundtracks for the Blind.

ILJ
August 21st 2012



6615 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I need to listen to Soundtracks more, but I think that this is better.

Ethics
August 21st 2012



4112 Comments


I've heard too many great things about this.
I guess I'll have to make it my first Swans album to dig into.

Looking forward to it.
Incredible review, by the way. Really enjoyed reading it.

Jruined
August 21st 2012



1289 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Finally took the time to listen to this. Felt like I lived a life and then came back into my own with the weight of an extra 60 years.

This is a heavy album. Between the walls of sound and the areas of lone voice it just crushes you.

Between this and hopefully what Neurosis' new endeavor will deliver, it'll be a good year.



Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
August 21st 2012



18005 Comments


could this be the album of the century??!?1

Digging: Autechre - Draft 7.30

mindleviticus
August 21st 2012



8151 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

AOTY definitely

Ethics
August 21st 2012



4112 Comments


could this be the album of the century??!?1

mindleviticus
August 21st 2012



8151 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

by the way, review was great

ibringyoufire
August 21st 2012



351 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Definitely solidified this year as one of my favorites for music in a while.

DarthMann
August 21st 2012



13476 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

was good first time, second time will be even better

cinaedus
August 21st 2012



26297 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

listening to this right now and it rules

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

Polymath
August 21st 2012



3836 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Nice.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 21st 2012



15727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8 | Sound Off

song for a warrior is perfect right where it is (aka kicking off disc 2). flow is already broken if you listen to the record properly, and song for a warrior establishes the second disc's character. nahmsayin?

Digging: A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Sea When Absent

cinaedus
August 21st 2012



26297 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

listening to the npr stream song for a warrior definitely seems out of place to me, but w/e, it's all good

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 21st 2012



15727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8 | Sound Off

i love that it feels out of place though. makes it kind of spooky, a serene scene that you can never get comfortable with cuz you know shits gonna get fucked up soon

cinaedus
August 21st 2012



26297 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i suppose

this is a really impressive album, but i can't see it being something i'd just sit down and listen to at any time. i have the same problem with joanna newsom's have one on me, but i love that too.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 21st 2012



15727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8 | Sound Off

this is awesome for long car rides. ive listened to this in full twice, and disc 2 by itself 4 times.

ILJ
August 21st 2012



6615 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"i love that it feels out of place though. makes it kind of spooky, a serene scene that you can never get comfortable with cuz you know shits gonna get fucked up soon"

I can kinda see where you're coming from. They did pick the best place for it, but it just still doesn't feel right to me there.





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