Swans
Children of God


5.0
classic

Review

by Nick Mongiardo CONTRIBUTOR (131 Reviews)
February 20th, 2016 | 30 replies


Release Date: 1987 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The crossroads of good and evil.

It’s difficult to pigeon hole something as massive as religion into simply calling it objectively good or bad. That’s why it truly acts as the crossroads of good or evil. It's up to the person to decide what they want to use it for. Horrid things happen to people while practicing such an influential part of our society. People of all ages get violated both physically and mentally, and ultimately end up losing themselves in more ways than one. Sometimes many dear friends around you are replaced by sheer faith in an entity that may or may not be there. From other ways of life being shunned to placing a taboo on sex, poisonous beliefs can come from it. Therefore, religion does more harm than good in some cases. Juxtapose this claim with Children of God, the result is absolutely frightening. From Gira’s robotic vocals to the overall creepy atmosphere, everything just reeks of mind control and hypnosis. Swans successfully make everything sound like an ominous cult with the aid of brooding guitar work and numerous other atmospheric devices. For these reasons, Children of God is a masterful work of art.

Aided by gentle yet oddly chilling guitar picking, Jarboe quietly and hypnotically sings about how we’ll never die or go old in “In my Garden.” The creepy piano melodies really help drive this point home and proves to be a true 180 for Swans stylistically. Instead of conveying this provocative point of view by means of bombastic noise, they chose a more serene route which is admirable. Opposing this is opener “New Mind,” which gradually crescendos in its troubled atmosphere and fantastic robotic vocals from Gira. Gradually growing angrier with each note, he successfully succeeds in someone shoving ideas down someone’s throats. The band does this so well with various vessels of sound and diversity on this album.

A prime example of this diversity is “Blood and Honey,” Swans utilize the middle eastern type of instrumentation and ominous female vocals. It’s about as bizarre as it is unsettling and profound. It’s also a testament to how this album isn’t meant to have any ounce of positivity to it, proving how provocative it’s themes are. The title track also excels at conveying this urgent sense of diversity and sincerity in its message as Jarboe’s gang vocals mindlessly chant “We are children of God.” With the help of engaging keyboards and pummeling drums, it acts as a perfect send off to this album. The album delivers its message in many ways, but the main way is how large scale the vocals and guitars sound. It makes the music sound so timeless and memorable. It’s a wonder how this came out in the late 80s due to its edgy themes and massive scope.

In “Our Love Lies,” Gira’s baritone vocals sound absolutely mighty and alarming in the mix. As the tambourine and catchy atmospheric riffs play on, Gira’s incredibly colossal vocals echo through everything, proving how a robotic baritone can convey a message with the same amount of power as harsh vocals. What’s also impressive happens to be how shocking his vocal crescendos can sound. He preaches about a poor child’s impurities in “Beautiful Child” and Michael’s troubled vocals sound genuinely pained. He quickly grows angrier by the second as his voice swells to passionate wails. It also helps heighten the mood when the lyrics talk about killing the child. Instrumentally, the guitars aggressively rise and the drums grow louder with intensity.

The album has its fair share of beautiful pieces of music as well. “Blackmail” and “Trust Me” reside in this spectrum. Aside from the noisy wall of guitars and compelling drumming, the lush acoustic guitars truly soar with breathtaking sincerity in the beginning of “Trust Me.” It’s one of the most engaging tracks on the record and “Blackmail” proves no exception. Jarboe sounds amazing in this one and she carries the track on her shoulders. Her voice gracefully echoes through the lush textures. Therefore, the song acts as a small bastion to breathe for a bit. “Real Love” is another engrossing piece of music, with Gira’s compelling lyrics paving the way. The repetitious guitars also impress with the help of Jarboe’s vocalizing in the distance and occasional harmonica playing.

Overall, Children of God exists as a one of a kind album with an incredible message. Instead of going about their claims with ferocious noise, Swans decided to craft a seminal work of art that acts as a strong influence on their later material. The guitar riffs hit hard, the charismatic vocals drone on powerfully and the drums pack a wallop. Their diverse choosing of instruments also includes the scarce yet effective use of acoustic guitars, strings and piano melodies. Rest assured, each song here has its own personality and flair. Most importantly, Children of God reminds us to never lose ourselves and be completely corrupted by religion’s power. Swans accomplished this goal tastefully and with grace.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
February 20th 2016


17853 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hope you guys enjoy the read! This is a bit of a personal album for me so I relate a lot to it.

Tunaboy45
February 20th 2016


13275 Comments


Good review mongi, enjoyed reading it.

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Piglet
February 20th 2016


6118 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

bloody good onya monga, gert yerself a ber yer derserve it

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
February 20th 2016


17853 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Cheers guys, I forgot to mention how awesome the album cover is. It's too good.

Supercoolguy64
February 20th 2016


7691 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's neat yea

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LordePots
February 20th 2016


32158 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

that first sentence is a huge turn off

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LordePots
February 20th 2016


32158 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

the second one too

LordePots
February 20th 2016


32158 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

whole first paragraph tbh. lots of really vague 'insights' into religion that really don't say anything at all or provide any actual insights...

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
February 20th 2016


17853 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fair enough, I mean I could tell a whole story in here about it and talk on and on about it, which is why I don't go too in depth. Just wanted to convey the albums point from my POV. Any suggestions?

LordePots
February 20th 2016


32158 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i just think it could be a little more succinct and direct instead of so vague. you give like 5 sentences but none of them really contribute to why or how religion can be good or bad unless you assume that the reader knows already. so it either comes off as if you dont need to explain in depth because u think your audience knows already, in which case why bother dedicating an entire paragraph of the review to it if its just going to be so passive, OR it comes off that you don't actually have anything more insightful or any stronger cases to provide as to why it can be so good or bad. i think you could either condense it if you don't actually want to go into detail or expand it and make a little more effort to open up that discussion of religions positive and negative effects on society.



if you choose to condense it you really don't need to discuss how religion is good at all considering your review and the album seem to focus on the nitty gritty of it.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
February 20th 2016


17853 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I was just trying to get both sides in there, but I guess it does read kinda general. Good points. I'll condense the "good" a little and expand on the "bad."

LordePots
February 20th 2016


32158 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

sall good buh-bruh, just my two cents

EvoHavok
February 21st 2016


5516 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome review and album.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2016


17853 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks evo bro

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2016


7783 Comments


never really got the hype around this one, much prefer White Light from the Mouth of Infinity and Love of Life. as for the review you've done a pretty bang up job, i've got some specific criticisms i'll bring up in a bit but overall yeh v well done indeed.

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Ocean of Noise
February 21st 2016


6869 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I can understand preferring White Light, but Love of Life is nowhere near this.

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Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2016


17853 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

By all means fire away arcade. And White Light is amazing.

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2016


7783 Comments


i'd say that this is on par with Love of Life but if it came down to the wire i think this would only just lose out.

EvoHavok
February 21st 2016


5516 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

White Light is amazing. [2]

Artuma
February 21st 2016


25595 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is better than white light and real love is one of the best things i've ever heard

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