Swans
Greed


3.5
great

Review

by Brendan M. USER (35 Reviews)
May 17th, 2014 | 66 replies


Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Swans take a step forward in terms of experimentation, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite gel together yet.

Swans. The name alone seems somewhat blunt and mysterious, which reflects the nature of their music. As Michael Gira himself put it, swans are majestic creatures, with ugly temperaments. This majestic, yet ugly sound would prove to be effective on releases such as Children of God and The Great Annihilator, but their beginnings seem to stick to the violent temperaments. Their sophomore record, Cop, is easily the best example of this, but there’s only so much pummeling one can do before it becomes stale. So, with the recruitment of Jarboe, addition of softer dynamics, and the growth of their platter of instruments, Swans began to understand this. The result is a rather intriguing record known as Greed.

Greed is best described as the stepping stone between the epic feeling of 90s Swans, and the brutal attack of early 80s Swans. They mesh together the beautiful elements of their sound, as well as the filthy elements of their sound (no pun intended). For instance, the opener “Fool”, is led by a piano instead of noise and feedback, or how the title track is full of Jarboe’s majestic backing vocals. Still though, the atmosphere is bleak and noisy, with pounding bass and drums being used on nearly every track. As a whole, the album is pieced together quite nicely, but generally sticks to the aforementioned sounds. The pace is generally at a crawling speed, the songs maintain a beautifully noisy sound, and they like to drone on and repeat lines in an attempt to hypnotize the listener. Unfortunately though, this is the element they had not yet mastered.

The material presented here is by no means bad, but there are plenty of elements that would later be improved upon. For instance, songs such as “Nobody” and “Heaven” seem to continuously repeat their sequences, which should be mesmerizing, but ultimately don’t quite develop into that feeling. Another gripe is the fact that the evolution hasn’t quite happened yet, it’s slowly creeping through. Every song seems to keep that same pummeling feeling and sense of hopelessness, which doesn’t differ too far from their past material. While this could be a bridge between the two decades of music Swans presented, the ideas presented don’t work as much as one would like them to.

So what does Greed present to the listener? It shows some sure signs of evolution, but the feeling they're going for isn't quite there yet. They still like to attack the listener into submission, but there is a hypnotic element they’re attempting to present that they simply don’t quite have yet. If anything, this is more of an interesting Swans record instead of a truly entertaining one. Greed would fit well in any collection for fans of the band, but it wouldn’t serve as a good starting point for newcomers at all due to the unrefined sound. So, this would serve any Swans fan who is interested in the evolution of their sound, but it’s not a good starting point. To finish with one final thought, Greed is a sign of change in the Swans sound, but the ideas aren’t quite refined yet.



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user ratings (173)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
BMDrummer
May 17th 2014


7752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Well, I got anxious to put this up early. I'm really prolific lately, and I'm going to review Oxbow's An Evil Heat next, which is hard to write so far. Constructive criticism is welcome as always!

Digging: Shellac - Dude Incredible

StallionMang
May 17th 2014


5703 Comments


Sweet review man, pos. One little thing I noticed was you used the phrase "but the ideas aren’t quite refined yet" twice in the last paragraph, but other than that you're good

Digging: The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground

BMDrummer
May 17th 2014


7752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Ok, think I fixed that.

TheBarber
May 17th 2014


1963 Comments


shit haven't listened to anything between Filth and Children of God, must change that

Digging: Animal Collective - Centipede Hz

BMDrummer
May 17th 2014


7752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Check out either Cop or Holy Money.

oltnabrick
May 17th 2014


30907 Comments


is this a new album or something??Q?!?

Digging: Suicideyear - FACT mix 462

BMDrummer
May 17th 2014


7752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

lol oltna

dannyboy89
May 17th 2014


11975 Comments


Pos'd hard.

ExplosiveOranges
May 17th 2014


2833 Comments


Well written review. Pos'd.

Digging: Electric Wizard - Time to Die

Polyethylene
May 18th 2014


3096 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I dislike it when bands with huge discographies have a late-career album that defines them and expands their fan base, and then all the new fans go back through their discogs listening for similar material. Instead, in these early albums they find stuff that appears to be heading in the direction of their definitive album (musical ideas that 'foreshadows' their big release or whatever). And because it only foreshadows rather than embodies the big release, through which the new fans view the band's entire discography, these fans accuse the old stuff of not being 'evolved' or 'refined' enough.

Not trying to be hipster and "I was a Swans fan before such a date", but this review sounds like a case of you listening to their older material with The Seer and TBK in mind and holding everything up to them. It's a weird retrospective way of viewing older albums like this, one that comes with a prejudice attached. People do it with Pink Floyd and KMFDM so much it hurts

Green Baron
May 18th 2014


20000 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

just a little boy

BMDrummer
May 18th 2014


7752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

@Polyethylene Look, I love Filth and Cop quite a bit. Holy Money is really good too, but what I meant was it didn't sound as refined as Children of God or The Great Annihilator or Soundtracks for the Blind. The album just drones on too much and doesn't quite go anywhere the way their masterpieces do. I didn't go in to this expecting Soundtracks, nor did I expect Cop, I went in with no expectations so I could view it a bit more objectively. Yes, I heard the Seer first, but you know what, it's an amazing album. I don't think it's their best though, for me it's Soundtracks for the Blind. Hope that clears things up a bit. Also, I heard this before Children of God or Soundtracks, and with that Pink Floyd statement, I love early Floyd. This also applies to Neurosis, they started as crossover thrash band, and I went in listening to those early records and liked them too.

oltnabrick
May 18th 2014


30907 Comments


omg omg

jtswope
May 18th 2014


2216 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Holy Money definitely was an improvement, but this album is still decent.

BMDrummer
May 18th 2014


7752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

^ This. Coward is legitimately one of the heaviest songs ever made.

oltnabrick
May 18th 2014


30907 Comments


this albuim needs in depth musical discussion

BMDrummer
May 18th 2014


7752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Read the review.

oltnabrick
May 18th 2014


30907 Comments


sputnik has gone downhill so drastically over the past 12-ish months, it's insane

literally zero interesting conversation about this album go on here. Barbers's post is great but I'm sure we won't be discussing its intellectual points any time soon.

BMDrummer
May 18th 2014


7752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I tried to be objective with this review tbh. Unfortunately though, not too much of this site really listens to early Swans.

BMDrummer
May 18th 2014


7752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yup.



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