April 19, 1999
London WC1 Borderline
Violent imagery is nothing new, but some of the imagery tonight seems worse than that employed by horrible metal bands long gone, who existed solely to be used as an annoyance by teenagers...
Sometimes groups stay underground because they shouldn't be brought into the light. Swans were a fearsome crew in the early-'80s who caused terror through high volume, and slowly mutated into a weird folk-rock outfit. And now Angels Of Light, their ex-leader Michael Gira's new act, have formed, to make an American music that revels in unpleasantness, but draws from simple, traditional sources. With the occasional foray into oppressive noise, of course.
It's so quiet in here at one point, the strains of Dusty Springfield's 'Son Of A Preacher Man' leak in from the bar upstairs. But when the songs do come, covering extremes of bad human behaviour, sexual and otherwise - within an enhanced acoustic format that finds room for keyboards, two guitars, two basses and a drumkit - the reasons for the silence could be shock or revulsion.
The first song etches out a prison cell scenario, 'My New Body' raises the noise levels, while 'Song For My Father' is full of self-revulsion. All keeping with Gira's old ethos, but with a directness that is rather unnerving.
Violent imagery is nothing new, but some of the imagery tonight seems worse than that employed by horrible metal bands long gone, who existed solely to be used as an annoyance by teenagers. Angels Of Light won't even get that chance - being as far away from the mainstream as it is possible to be.
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