Review Summary: All roads lead to home.
1987's Children of God
is perhaps the most brilliant album in Swans' rock solid discography, and that's really saying something. If there's one thing that has been both a blessing and a curse for Swans, it's that they've never really developed an identity. Although early works such as Filth
sound quite similar, for the most part each entry in their long, venerable discography stands alone and completely distinct from the rest of their work. Children of God
is the point where the dissonance between their earlier and later work collides and meshes together into one cohesive whole; it's a masterwork of an album containing moments that could be easily described as "masculinity distilled," as well as vulnerable, emotional moments that would be the last thing to expect from Swans. And despite the variety in sound and thematic ideals between each track, it all manages to come together.
"New Mind" starts off the album perfectly, and immediately you can see a change from the no-wave industrial sounds of the previous albums - although the crushing brutality is still there, an injection of melody has been applied and rip-roaring gang vocals soar in the background. It's a perfect song that's wholly Swans. The second track, "In My Garden," is a complete switch in gears and unlike anything they had done up to that point. Showing off Jarboe at her best and moving beyond the rudimentary trappings of melody found in Greed
and Holy Money
, it's pure beauty in musical form.
The rest of Children of God
elegantly switches to the two extremes of the first two tracks and everywhere in between without missing a beat. White Light From the Mouth of Infinity
, The Great Annihilator
, and even The Seer
all have their roots here. At the same time, the heavier tracks here would not feel out of place on Cop
, or Holy Money
is Swans, and all those other places, as beautiful as they may be, all point to here. If you still haven't bothered to listen to a Swans album before, start here.