"Last So Long"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Chicago is such an epicenter of the musical world. Not just for heavy metal, but for blues, industrial, roots rock and more. That includes hard-edged alternative music, which used to be something I stuck my nose up at. But when alt-rock is as focused and driving as The Swan King, I must tip my hat and bow my head. "Last So Long" is a brisk and energetic listen.

The band contains ex members of Pelican and Planes Mistaken For Stars so they've been around the block. Anybody expecting the meandering soundscapes of Pelican will be in for a surprise here. The songs are simple, hooky and full of piss and vinegar without exactly deviating into full fledged metal or punk. There is some resemblance to PMFS but Swan King is less noisy, less sloppy. I wasn't expecting a thing until the hard-hitting "Explore the Void" opened things up with a classic riff that really pulls you in. The vocals are kind of shouted, kind of sung, but clean and easy to understand. The first track is no aberration, as "At Who's Expense?" is even angrier and more impactful. By now, I realize I've got a real surprise on my hands.

They stick close to the formula for the length of "Last So Long" and that works very well. Something comforting about hearing basic but edgy hard rock songs. "Built To Break" is a little bit longer and throws some syncopated riffing in. The title track has kind of a mournful, sparse sound to it. Let's not fool anybody...this is not headbanging metal we're talking about, but it is intense in its own way.

A pleasant surprise, I wouldn't mind hearing more in the vein of The Swan King.