As the current incarnation of Swans draws to a close, here’s the second studio album by that version of the band, from 2012. Michael Gira assembled a lineup of veterans like Norman Westberg and new blood including Thor Harris, guest spots from the likes of Karen O and Ben Frost, with even Jarboe making an appearance. They managed to combine the monolithic heaviness of the past with a new sensibility that saw the lengthy tracks evolve over the course of touring. Massive epics like The Apostate and the 32-minute title track are balanced by gentle miniatures such as The Daughter Brings the Water and Song for a Warrior. This is a huge, sprawling album, and only the first of three such two-hour, 2CD or 3LP monsters. Some of the most ambitious and visionary rock music of recent years. 

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The Seer by SWANS
4 reviews. Write a review for us »
9/10 Ant 24 August 2012

SWANS return after their outstanding reformation album 'My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky'. While many bands have re-grouped to perform classic albums in their entirety simply for cash SWANS stayed true to themselves, reforming not for dollars - there clearly was some unfinished business.

There was a brutal touring schedule which has been documented on DVD which is available on one of three versions of The Seer. A deluxe 3LP, a 2CD format and 2CD + DVD set. Now we have The Seer; a mammoth proper double album that continues Gira's search for pure beauty and serves as a perfect statement of intent.

It's a dark record but then you need to wander through the darkness to find the light, right? I honestly cannot think of a band that has produced a record with as much integrity as this 30 years down the line. To dissect this record track by track would take an eon but more importantly the music is so powerful that words almost belittle it. Gira and his supremely capable team offer up some of the most intense, visceral "rock" music I've heard in some time, effortlessly straddling the balance of light and dark, moving from quiet melancholy to gargantuan slabs of sound that verge on the transcendental.

My initial response to the Seer was very much an endurance test. It takes a lot out of you, in this sense the listener joins the ride with Gira on its highs and lows. It's a captivating journey if a little draining but that's a small sacrifice when you think how much of himself Gira gives to the music. Let's not forget the musicians either, they're a tight bunch to say the least and not only offer up the perfect platform for Gira''s vision but  are integral to it. If such a thing as a perfect combination exists then this may well be it. Exactly what this aforementioned "vision" is still remains somewhat shrouded in mystery to me, which is something I find particularly engaging.

The last record was quite something, however after repeated listens to The Seer I'm inclined to say I find the intensely powerful beauty that emerges here is even stronger. A total class record throughout - let's hope these guys have a few more in them.

9/10 Jonathan Fieldhouse 12th August 2014

Swans second album (and for that matter, their 3rd, "To Be Kind") since their reformation shows that Michael Gira is making his greatest records nearly 30 years into his career with Swans. The Seer is an album colossal proportions. It mixes so many styles and sounds that the only way to describe this, is 'Swans'. It is definitely not for the faint of heart or anyone looking for memorable verse-chorus songs. It is however, incredibly rewarding for a patient and open-minded listener. The 2 hours of listening time will throw the listener, scare the listener and most importantly, inspire the listener with a sense of awe. Each moment is so meticulously crafted to create an effect upon listen, so perfectly executed, that you cannot help but be floored by the creation you stand before. It is nature, it is emotion, it is everything you can imagine, it is Swans.

9/10 George Customer rating (no review), 6th August 2019
10/10 Lars Customer rating (no review), 29th January 2018



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