There has only been a select few of UK bands who have been lucky enough to be signed by Bridge 9 records, so when I found out that Dead Swans had been signed up by the biggest label in hardcore I expected good things from the album.
When you first put the record on you are greeted by Thinking Of You, the song starts out slow and sludgy and I thought this could be really something different and great, until 20 seconds in when the song takes off. Every line of vocals is sung in a call and response way by singer Nick, every so often in hardcore music this is really effective, but when it’s on nearly every song it loses its charm.
After being unimpressed by the first song I didn’t want to condemn the album as the rest might be different, but I was wrong. Almost every song starts in the same way, fast music, fast vocals in call and response fashion, the structures aren’t all that inventive and most songs have discordant finger picking at the end of each bar which is all too cliché.
Even when the song Ivy Archway ends with an instrumental acoustic piece I feel I’ve heard it done all before in bands like Give up the Ghost and The Legacy. Dead Swans are obviously fans of the aforementioned Give up the Ghost as nearly everything about them is a tribute, “poetic” lyrics, discords, octaves and stereotypical breakdowns, even Nick’s voice sounds like Wes Eisold. You could argue that the genre is melodic hardcore and it’s very hard to be original, but plenty of bands, especially in the UK have written brilliant melodic hardcore songs that sound like no other band.
It wasn’t until I got to the song Winter Overture that I found a song I genuinely liked, as its all instrumental and pretty original in its format. Unfortunately that’s the only real gem on the album and to be frank I’d rather listen to a melodic band with more originality.
The sad truth is that in today’s dying hardcore scene this album will probably be one of Bridge 9’s best selling of the year and everyone will love it and Dead Swans will continue to be at the top. I’m not saying they don’t deserve it as they’ve all been in bands that haven’t gone anywhere in the past, just that there are other bands out there writing better, more original music.