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The Goddamn Slave Ship of Failure - 75%

Thumbman, December 3rd, 2019

There was a particular time in my life where I'd listen to Swan's White Light From the Mouth of Infinity nearly every day. It was not a good time in my life. Despite just graduating university, I had to take a hard labour job because I just moved into an apartment and wouldn't have been able to pay rent if I waited it out for a better job. I was in a bad relationship at the time and didn't feel very hopeful about my future. This hard labour job frequently spilled into sixty hours over 6 days a week, and entailed mixing concrete in a wheelbarrow and digging 5 foot holes with spoon shovels all day in the sweltering humidity of summer. I'd get up at 5am and White Light was often my companion on the bus ride. "Failure" would hit particularly hard, because it felt so real to me at that point of my life. As dejected as it could make me feel, it also served as a constant reminder that I had to force myself to be something better if I didn't want to end up like the old man in the song.

"Failure" is one of my favourite songs from one of my favourite bands, and it's one it makes a lot of sense for a metal band to cover it given its heavy nature (both sonically and emotionally) and its self-explanatory themes. I'd more expect a straight up sludge cover, but Paths do a good job with it. It starts off a lot lighter, with reverb drenched chords and a softer approximation of Gira's signature grizzled vocals. When I first heard it, I thought the whole song would carry on in this vein, but it quickly switches to a doomy plod accompanied with with pained rasps. The song continues in this fashion, with deep clean vocals mixing back in for the refrain. Adding increasingly loud static to the end is a nice (maybe nice isn't the right word - it feels near-suicidal) touch and makes a lot of sense in the context of the song.

Sure, this is dwarfed in comparison to the original song, but how could it not be? I don't trying to be as good as the original is really the intent in a situation like this, it's more about paying tribute to a song in another style that's spiritually tied to your vision. "Failure" is a song that can be relatable to an uncomfortable degree at times, but I'm glad that Swans made it, and I'm glad that it meant enough to someone else to put their own spin on it.