Swans - The Seer
Mar 30, 2023
This thing is DARK. Swans music is far from lighthearted or easy to listen to, I think that goes without saying for anyone who has heard their music, but The Seer takes the darkness from previous releases and channels it into a more visceral and direct sound (specifically on the first disc), as opposed to the more eerie or unsetting sound that an album like Soundtracks For The Blind takes on. The entire first disc of The Seer sounds as if its being played in a pitch black room with how disorienting some of the music can be on tracks like Mother of the World and the title track. Everything on the first disc feels undeniably and viscerally hellish in a way that a lot of Swans music hasn't up until now.

I've specifically mentioned the first disc being the darkest part of this album, because the second disc somehow manages to pack in some of the few Swans moments I would describe as easy to listen to, or even pretty at times. Song for a Warrior is genuinely a gorgeous acoustic ballad with Jarboe on vocals, and the slow build that eventually gives way to Gira's refrains of "Your mind is in my eye" makes for one of the few Swans songs that feels almost hopeful in a way. Then theres A Piece of the Sky, whose outro might be my favorite part of any Swans track ever. The entire first 15 minutes is spent building one of the most anxiety-inducing passages on the album, which suddenly drops out towards the back end giving way to an amazing sung performance from Michael Gira and a bassline and acoustic guitar chords that feel like the sun rising after the darkness of the first 15 minutes of the track. The closer Apostate feels like a return to the darker sound from the first disc, but in a more energetic and less sludgy way, fitting in more with the second Disc's overall atmosphere.

Overall, I found The Seer to be Swans most visceral album yet. It pairs the darkness of SFTB with the directness that they would go on to perfect on To Be Kind to make an album that is wholly, in a word, hellish.

Favorite Tracks: Mother of the World / The Seer / Song For A Warrior / Avatar / A Piece of the Sky / Apostate

Least Favorite Track: The Wolf

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