ALBUM OF THE WEEK

Swans return with a masterpiece, made to be extreme.

After 2012’s The Seer, Swans found themselves the most popular they’d ever been in their entire 30-year career. With To Be Kind, they’ve decided to double down with another two-hour, double-disc collection of the most brutal, hypnotising music you will ever hear.

Their new album is considerably lighter in tone, with many of the tracks having a rhythmic pulse. But in many ways, it is The Seer’s sequel; louder, more explosive, more violent. Its similarity to The Seer will no doubt inspire debates over which is better. That album featured long passages of drone music, which made the explosive parts that much more effective in an album setting. To Be Kind features ten masterpieces, assembled in a way that can be draining to listen to in one sitting.

Which isn’t a bad thing. Every track is its own perfect monolith, and this music was made to be extreme, from the mutant blues of opener ‘Screen Shot’ and the engrossing mantra of the 34-minute ‘Bring The Sun/Toussaint L’ouverture’ to the spasmodic ‘Oxygen’.

These are pieces to get lost in. To fight your way through to the other side and see if you survive.

5/5.

To Be Kind is out now through Mute / Create/Control.

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