This has taken forever. But it’s been well worth the wait.
I hung about with Swallows in the studio pointing my camera at them when they recorded this track and it’s great to finally see it released. “Hangman” is a storming track, which I think, finally shows just how good the bands song-writing chops are, and proves that they’re not just about throwing shapes on stage.
That said, they do throw some formidable shapes.
“Hangman” is two things straight off the bat: startlingly aggressive and astonishingly hopeful. Given the traditional focus of a lot of heavy music on negativity, it’s refreshing to hear a positive sentiment set to an aggressive soundtrack. Especially when it’s still cathartic and admirably raw.
Swallows would have you believe that they spend all their time crying and dressing like goths, but in fact they’re pretty up beat young men with nice, sensible hair cuts. Like The Smiths. Except with less poetry and more rolled up sleeves.
Though they do cry a lot. It’s a bit embarrassing really…
I think my favourite thing about this track is how often it turns on a dime and switches from relentless punk ferocity to more expansive and brooding dynamics. The sharp stabs of the songs first half, along with those sick drum fills, are endlessly satisfying when paired with the snarling, vein popping vocal and the shift to the layered howling voices over the songs crushing crescendo is a wonderful, and exhilarating, change of pace. It’s an arrangement built to be bellowed back at the band from their audience.
Assuming they aren’t too busy tearing up that is.
Full credit to the ever excellent Paul McInally over at 45 A Side Recordings for keeping the band’s sound raw and guttural and avoiding going for the kind of polished studio sounds that rob so much of modern heavy music of anything even resembling a genuine bite. Though I guess Swallows will have to accept that the lack of sub drops limit their appeal to the rock club market…
Though its influences might be a tad obvious: those tremelo guitar lines scream Deafheaven, the frantic to crushing dynamic brings to mind Converge and the impassioned, heart-on-the-sleeve vocal recalls the approach of Touché Amore it hardly matters that the reference points are so clear when the track is this good.
You’ll presumably be too busy crying, or moshing, to do notice anyway.
I’ll take passion, sick performances and cool arrangements over mind bending originality any day. Maybe that just shows a lack of imagination on my part. The number of references in this blog to crying certainly does.
“Hangman” is available now for the lovely price of whatever you want via the band’s Bandcamp page.
I took some photos of Swallows earlier in 2015 in Edinburgh. You can see some of those in this piece but the rest are over here. I also took some photos of them headlining King Tuts at the end of last year. That ruled and you can see that set here.