Imperious Grunts & Groans. Swans, The Seer.

Nobody grunts and groans quite like Gira grunts and groans, and he's never sounded more pained nor pleasurable than he does over the gloriously excruciating course of The Seer. Reckoned noise rock leviathans Swans would never better White Light From the Mouth of Infinity? Well you may just wanna listen in...

It's everything you'd anticipate of the perennially transitional NYC sextet and more besides: brutally ferocious, schizophrenically swaying ominously between melody and inexpressible disharmony, and is far and away the most visceral thing heard in an age despite there being a drill to have purred quite disconcertingly outside the window for this past week. One listen to The Seer is unspeakably more gruelling than an aeon in the company of this vexatious pneumatic earth-shatterer of which I speak, and its half-hour title-track – on which Gira for the most part impersonates a tribalistic didgeridoo trill; one to leave you feeling genuinely demoralised come its conclusion – fully attests to this dichotomy between the loveably unlistenable and the unsettlingly melodic. Or, again to stress the point, between pain (of which there's palpable gallons in Karen O's voice alone on the curled ebb of crestfallen majesty that is Song for a Warrior) and pleasure. This is pain for pleasure, and you sense that'll always be the song to which these particular Swans sing.

Opener Lunacy is just that and ratchets it up to the most deranged degree although if deemed thus, consider it madness at its most mesmeric. It's loud/ quiet dynamism at its most exasperatingly tense to create a petrifyingly terse effect as incandescent as the teensiest speck of flaming vitriol on the tip of a tongue ablaze with the inextinguishable ire of decades. You wind up feeling as though you've actively done something to incense its author. 93 A. B Blues meanwhile, all smokin' drum battery and discord to screech the world to an alarming halt on its rusted axis, channels an altogether converse terror. In amongst it all however are fleeting moments of the melodious to temper the record with slight relief. Both The Wolf – an almost a cappella croak of a distinctly dry 'n' dusty Cash ilk and The Daughter Brings The Water – a morose wash of acoustic minors and a pseudo-spiritual outpour midway through – seek to establish such respite. Yet these are the album's most concise moments, and with this being a double album its wingspan may be measured at just shy of two hours. Where does the time get to then, you may enquire as though impatient prepubescent itching for more in the backseat of Gira's battered cadillac? Well The Seer aside, it comes in a devastating volley amid a quite apocalyptic ending to it all.

Already wearied by what its composer always intended as an exhaustive, yet in some ways analytical encapsulating of an already magnificent career the tubular bells of Avatar instantaneously seduce, only to toll further drama. This one's only eight minutes and as it builds to the frenzied cacophony on which it closes, it sounds out the traumatisation still to come: A Piece of the Sky rises from the caustic hissing of an armada of smouldering cinders before exploding in vivid, almost bluish celestial harmonies somewhere around the two-minute mark. The tone swiftly swings direful as anticipated, and contorted drones are eventually drowned out by the astonishing lustrousness to Benjamin John Power's Blanck Mass eponym. This then spills over into a compelling trudge of piano honkery and seething guitar. It's like an LP in its entirety massacred and remoulded into 20 highly illuminating minutes. It defines ambition; artistry; its architect. Even the fact that it finally blossoms into a withered lap steel amble watered with Dylan's rasp does nothing to detract from its overwhelming momentousness.

Although it's the sky-shifting, mountainous tumult textures of The Apostate – an ungodly fucking Bible of raucousness – that really lays to waste the prostrate once and for all, its every clatter of cymbal seemingly rimmed with blood as guitars rumble on with gutural venom and artillery-like rounds of snare are fired off in the direction of general dissonance. If you're yet to learn of Michael Gira's teachings in impalpable onslaught and utter sonic ruination then The Seer may just be the best goddamn history lesson y'all ever did took, buckaroo.