After years of pursuing Angels of Light and recording and producing a diverse roster of artists for his Young God label, Michael Gira has reconvened his legendary group Swans. As he says: "This is not a reunion. It's not some dumb-ass nostalgia act. It is not repeating the past. After five Angels of Light albums, I need a way to move forward, in a new direction, and it just so happens that revivifying the idea of Swans allows me to do that." This highly anticipated album is as powerful and diverse as anything Gira's ever done, in Swans or otherwise. It opens with the epic, soul-crushing "No Words / No Thoughts," but quickly veers to more pastoral terrain, and on to ever-ascending monotonal grooves. A filmic-folk idyll featuring Devendra Banhart on lead vocal abruptly shifts to cataclysm, and is followed by more airplane-taking-off ascensions, art songs and lethal sonic pummeling. In short, this is the new Swans album, a significant advance from where they left off and as challenging and emotionally demanding as ever.