Released: 17 August, 2018
Swansong make waves with sophomore album. Mark Ray reviews for Louder Than War.
Swansong are Jimmers, Nat, Simon and Dan; I don’t know who does what – except Nat does the vocals – but who cares when they make such a righteous noise. From the brutal opening song Ever, with its ominous bass line backed up with a drum beat hammering at the brain and Nat’s vocals delivered in short, staccato bursts, you know your ears are in for pleasure.
Although the American grunge and alternative scene’s influence is strong, this is the sound of a group finding their own voice. The bass and drums are tight, with the rhythm guitar slashing out the chords like a frenzied chainsaw and the lead adding melodic overtones when the music threatens to fall into noise. Nat’s vocals are confident and tinged with enough punk sneer to cut you like a shiv, though with enough depth to offer self-awareness and anxiety. The songs have a great build up to the choruses, effortlessly fused and flowing, building tension and explosions and with calandos at just the right moments.
There is light and dark here. No Help starts slowly and melodically and is dripping with neurosis and a great build in tension. Treehouse has an almost psychedelic touch to it, syncopating between thoughtful and anger. Warrior Song and Give Up are straight out attack punk songs. The latter being an anthemic beauty that would get any mosh-pit heaving. Cold Beans is grunge tinged with a melody that explodes into the choruses like a letter bomb. The 90s feel of How To Leave continues the grunge feel with a heavy beat and a cold sneer of a vocal. Things slow down a little on Shy, which opens with the guitar chugging along, building up tension, and the vocals a blues tinged lament. But then it shatters into a punk chorus of heavy attitude.
The album ends with the six-minute epic that is Sunbathe. It starts with a melodic arpeggio on guitar, then the band burst in like the sun coming up above the skyline. There’s a mystic feeling to it, a sense of being slightly out of time, a trip where something not quite right is there in the corner of your vision. It’s a song that displays all the talents of Swansong, the way they can hold tension, build it up, drop it down, and hold your attention whilst also making you want to slam dance about. Definitely a band to watch.