Album: Swans, The Seer (Young God)

Michael Gira, Swans' lead noise-rock believer, calls The Seer "the culmination" of a life's work.

It's no idle boast: over two hours, their 12th album covers all points from brutality to beauty in pursuit of epiphanies. The 32-minute title track and "Avatar" exult in extreme dirge terror. But Karen O's radiant vocals on "Song for a Warrior" show a nose for nuance: Gira knows it's light that makes the darkness seem so much richer.

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