The Great Annihilator/Drainland
Michael Gira’s distaste for the original muddy sound of 1995’s Annihilator should dissolve here, as this updated version definitively clears up Swans’ 9th album. A band that defies any classification, this is some of their most straight forward work, taking industrial noise and twisting it with art damaged experimentalism. At over an hour in length, it’s a barrage of droning, ominous precision that is more punctuated in this remastered version and will forever remain a dark, post-punk, gothic masterpiece.
The companion album here, Drainland, Michael Gira’s debut solo album (also released in 1995), went largely under appreciated and is a quieter affair, but certainly no less unusual. With plenty of soundbites, rambling and beats, it strips back Gira’s approach musically and lyrically exposes a lot of personal strife amid the minimalism.
If you’re a longtime fan of unconventional sounds, you’ve no doubt already been exposed to Swans and this is an essential piece of their history. For the virgin ears, if bands like Ministry and Joy Division and terms like no wave and avant-garde mean anything to you, Swans, and especially Annihilator, deserve your attention.