SWANS play Lee’s Palace October 25. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Swans' 12th album is the most terrifying volley yet from one of the most brutal bands on the planet. They make death metal seem like the soundtrack to a Disney film and yet somehow sidestep most of the expected methods of exploring evil in music. Michael Gira describes this gruelling two-hour epic as the "culmination of every previous Swans album," and while he's prone to hyperbole, the statement rings true.
This isn't cartoon horror. It's more like a stark, unflinching meditation on the darkness that's inside all of humanity. Helping Gira out is an all-star cast of collaborators including Yeah Yeah Yeahs vocalist Karen O, members of Akron/Family, Mercury Rev, Low and many others, but the sound has little in common with any of their main gigs.
The Seer will definitely raise the band's profile, although its sheer intensity and ugliness may scare people away. On the other hand, sitting through the whole thing even once is enough to leave a permanent mark on the listener.
Top track: Mother Of The World