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Quite obviously, Mausoleum Records saw a way to profit from the recent Death Angel reunion by releasing this CD. How else would you explain the following things: there are pictures from Death Angel live shows of all the former Death Angel members in the booklet, Andy Galeon is credited as Rob Cavestany and the other way around on the back of the inlay, not one band member has a thank list, but the record company has one and the cover has nothing to do with the title and the lyrics of the song...
Nonetheless, I'm very glad I got this CD. This way the buyer has all the songs that Swarm has recorded over the years. All the songs are from the 'Devour' EP (2002) and the self-titled EP (1999) and I guess the remaining two songs are from an early demo or something. There are very few details about that in the booklet. Since both EP's are very hard to get nowadays, this CD is the perfect opportunity to get all the songs.
The story behind Swarm is quite simple. After The Organization split up after two brilliant CDs, one half of the band (drummer Andy Galeon and bassist Dennis Pepa) started the punk band Big Shrimp and the other half of the band (guitarists Rob Cavestany and Gus Pepa) quit music. After a while, the musical spirit in Rob Cavestany started to rise again, and of course, he's in my opinion the best composer on Earth, and he started playing acoustic guitar again. He met a bassist named Michael Isaiah in a record store and both musicians started jamming acoustically. When after a while they started playing electrically, Andy Galeon joined the band and when former-Death Angel singer Mark Osegueda came back to San Francisco and joined Swarm after having seen them in the rehearsal room. Three members of the eighties Thrash giant Death Angel were back together again and the addition of the inventive bassist Isaiah was a welcome one.
Back to the CD then. Track 1-5 consist of all of the songs from the 'Devour'-EP, but then in a different order. Luckily, because 'Heaven's Cage' makes a much better opener than 'Dark Western'. Both songs are good, but 'Heaven's Cage' is just the best song on the album and with its adrenaline-rush kind of energy, it makes a perfect opener. Kick-ass riffs, energetic drum work and Mark Osegueda's agressive vocals (with beautiful backings by Rob Cavestany) make the song unforgettable. 'Bleed' and 'Never Forget' are more modern, experimental tracks and that is what makes the tracks good. Those tracks immediately show that Swarm is far more agressive than most Death Angel did and everything The Organization did. What follows is one of my other favorites of the album; 'Karma'. This experimental track shows some beautiful, experimental pieces of music (just check out the brilliant bass intro or the beautiful multivocal parts in the chorus) mixed in with Black Sabbath-like guitar riffs. The 'Devour'-part of the album closes off with 'Dark Western', a strange, but very powerful song.
The next three tracks are from the self-titled EP. 'Bleed' was on that one too, but they picked the rendition of that song from the 'Devour'-EP, most likely because of the better sound quality. This part of the CD is notably softer than the first five songs, but not by any means worse. 'Sengir Vampire' and 'Sufferahs' just move me a little less than the first five tracks and that is strange, because these songs consist of a lot more swinging rhythms than on the 'Devour'-CD. This part of the CD is closed off by the song 'Beyond The End', which contains some of the most awesome drumming Andy Galeon has ever done and of course the rest of the musicians do a great job on this song too, but hey...that goes without saying!
The last two tracks on the album haven't been on an official release from the band, maybe from an early demo or something, but definitely worth being heard. 'Diamond' reminds me of Black Sabbath a lot because of it's wah-wah riff in the beginning and somehow the melody of that riff reminds me of 'Sabra Cadabra' from the 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath'-album. Even though I'm not a Sabbath-fan, I really like 'Diamond'. Mark Osegueda's final screams on this song remind me of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler somehow. The CD closes with 'My Eyes Have Seen You', a song some of you guys might know from The Doors. Funny thing is that the band remained true to that typical The Doors-sound in several parts throughout the song. This rendition is just a little heavier than the original and Mark Osegueda is of course no Jim Morrison, even though they are on an equal level when it comes to flamboyance. Luckily enough, Osegueda is still alive.
I don't know how most Death Angel fans think about Swarm in general, but I love what they did. Too bad that they split up because of the Death Angel reunion. Well...actually not, because the Death Angel reunion was a dream come true for me, but a fact is that it's too bad that Swarm isn't in existance anymore. What Swarm had in common with Death Angel was the will to explore new things, they just differ in approach. If any of you guys wants to hear "something different", I think you should check this CD (or any of the EP's) out.