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Great Destroyer

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 25, 2005
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The band's seventh full-length album, The Great Destroyer is fascinating in that it blends the band's austere melodies ("On the Edge Of," "Silver Rider") with an aggressive guitar onslaught ("Monkey," "Everybody's Song") and even melds Low's varied styles together into a single song ("When I Go Deaf"). Co-produced by Low and David Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev), The Great Destroyer is a welcome surprise and, in the end, a rock n' roll revelation.

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On their seventh album, the Duluth, Minnesota-based trio Low have sped their songs up considerably so that now, they’re at normal pace. The album was cleverly produced by Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, the Flaming Lips, Wheat), and there are many fine songs here, like the upbeat anthem "California," the soundtrack-ish dirge "Pissing" and the gorgeous "Cue The Strings." Low has yet to make a bad album, but this is what you might call a "transitional" album. And speaking of transitions, there seems to be little glue to link these varied songs together. "Step" sounds like a song the Partridge Family threw away, while "Everybody’s Song" shows that when you speed up repetitive dynamics that worked well at a glacial pace it’s not always such a good thing. Tempo isn’t everything by any means, but the self-imposed limitations of their former working methods, which produced such striking songs before, has yet to be replaced by an approach of equal value. At times, they don’t even sound like Low, but rather just another indie-pop band--not a bad one by any means, but not a sublime one either. It’ll be very interesting to see where they go next. --Mike McGonigal
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 25, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sub Pop
  • ASIN: B000777J9G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,307 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Hearing rumors of Low's change in tempo and sound before the release of The Great Destroyer made me a tad nervous. I love Low's music and, like most fans, I was hoping that it didn't change them so much that they didn't sound like Low anymore. Well, all of my fears have been allayed and I am happy to say that I am enamored with Destroyer. Alan, Mimi, and Travis have delivered what for them is an aggressive disc with solid, breathtaking songs. Of more interest is the fact that they have moved to the Subpop label and will be getting more circulation as far as distribution is concerned. This, coupled with some of their more accessible (and I don't mean that in a negative way) songs, there may be a new nation of Low fans soon.

The Great Destroyer begins with a track titled "Monkey." The tribal beat of this song wakes up the demons hiding under Low's bed. It seems that the noise has finally broken through and some angst has come through. "Monkey" begins with a fuzzy hum and breaks out into a tribal beat with fuzzed out bass. The lyrics center around a lie that has ruptured a relationship and the struggles with that lie. Destroying the monkey is the key and repairing the relationship is what Alan and Mimi croon for. What is great about this sort of song on the album is that Low has lost nothing in the translation. In spite of the speed being picked up and the louder version of themselves, they still sound like Low. They are still patient in their vocal phrases and really do draw out the notes in the context of a poppier song. Honestly, I think that is an amazing feat.

"California," their first single, is definitely the most accessible song on the disc. It is a straightforward indie-pop song that is full and beautiful.
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Format: Audio CD
After 11 years of a slow motion rock that was the aural equivalent of decomposition, it seemed that Low would take their brand of "slowcore" to its logical end: brain death. But a strange thing happens on The Great Destroyer, Low's seventh studio release: they remove their heads from their collective ass, take a long hard look at the world and decide that they both love and hate what they see. Then they rock. Perhaps it's been the long slog of some truly lugubrious past releases, or the kind of brisk thaw after a cold harsh winter that makes you overrate the first nice day of spring, but The Great Destroyer is bracing, easily the best thing Low has done. From the suicide ride of opener "Monkey", to the compromised lure of sunny "California", to the happy death closer "Walk Into the Sea", singers Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, along with bassist John Nichols, feel both the sting and the warmth of the sun on their faces, and react accordingly. And just so they don't alienate their depressed fans, the best song here -"Silver Rider" - does the slowcore thing to perfection, condensing all their themes into one gorgeous, slow, sad song about the passing of time, the decaying of the body, and the final triumph of "the great destroyer".
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
I only own two Low lps. This one made me sit up and listen! I feel I need to start with my ratings...

Content.... 5+ stars
Sonics... 3.5 stars
Production ...2.5 stars

For me, (an end user, listener), I want to be drawn into a record. "The Great Destroyer" does this considering the record only for it's content. Regarding it's production... that's were it falls short. With all of what's going on here, the vocals, the instruments, etc... it comes across to me, the "end user" as a "jumble". By that I mean all of the great performances by all involved are "jumbled" into a center soundstage. This does not serve the music well, IMO.

The production, mixing engineers are what keeps this great record from becoming exceptional.

What could have been?....
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Format: Audio CD
I love these sort of finds which rarely happen in the internet age. I was listening to recent interview by Robert Plant, who was asked what would be his one album to take to a deserted island. You guessed it...he said this one! Plant isn't some old codger who lives in the past, but stays abreast of all sorts of new music. Knowing this, I decided to explore this music myself and I am so glad I did. What a beautiful record. Austere, intense, sublime, and beautiful. This record has a feel to it that makes you want look at the world differently. I don't know much about the band, but I will be exploring them further. Take a chance, and enjoy the ride!
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
This is a great value for a vinyl album. I already own the CD version of this fanatic album but wanted the vinyl record edition. The price can't be beat. If you've never listened to this indie band then give them a try. They have quite a bit of music available for prime members to listen to on Amazon Prime so you have no excuse not to check them out. You'll be glad you did. Favorites on this album are Silver Rider and Monkey, both of which were covered by Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) on one of his own albums.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Low is a band that I did not previously know, but whose work I fully intend to explore more fully in the future. We all have preferences in our music, and I have always been a total sucker for bands with a dense, layered sound with plenty of distortion on their guitars (think Eleventh Dream Day, Thin White Rope, or any Neil Young-inspired indie band). So the thick sound of Low really appeals to me on a primal level. What delights me, however, is the way that their heavy sound is balanced by an almost lyrical touch at times, like a rock pile bordered by daffodils. The result is a sound that seems grungy yet subdued at the same time. Low is also masterful at augmenting their sound with just the right additional instrument or percussion, an organ on this song, or a cowbell on this one (no Christopher Walken jokes, please). They don't pile on effects by any means, maintaining instead a persistently minimalist aesthetic, but they aren't afraid of proper adornment.

The subject matter is compatible with the sound, most of them songs about struggling with inner demons, but even more about the determination to meet and exorcise them, whether successful or not. The lyrics are mildly oblique, often poetic, and frequently scary. In "When I Go Deaf," for instance, the singer is bizarre in seeing all the advantages of not being able to hear, hinting at all the fights that he and his lover will not have to have. It is a profoundly unsettling sentiment. Likewise, in "Monkey," a broken or breaking relationship is acknowledged, only to have the chorus insist that: "Tonight you will be mine/Tonight the monkey dies." Exactly what is meant by the monkey dying (or even precisely what the monkey is) isn't spelled out nor whether it will die a natural death or will be murdered.
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