If David Browne's Sonic Youth bio was to be believed, Swans, who emerged from the same noise-filled no wave scene in New York's early 80s as Thurston Moore, had a rotating cast of nasty-tempered psychotic rockers, with multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira at its centre. Listening to Swans' new album, the first in 14 years, you get the sense that some of that malevolence remains.
Opener No Words/No Thoughts sets the tone with a crescendo of horrific grinding noises rising over a death-march beat. The second cut, a countryish dirge called Reeling The Liars In, adds more bleakness, and then a six-minute processional groove called Jim follows. However, the album's most disturbing moment - and Swans albums usually have several - comes when Devendra Banhart chimes in vocally on a happy little ditty called You Fucking People Make Me Sick alongside Gira's three-year-old daughter. The duet leaves you shivering.
Top track: My Birth
Swans swoop into Lee's Palace Saturday (October 2).