Often you track a band closely over their entire career. Other times, for no real reason at all, your orbits only align periodically and before you know it - bang - you're back on collision course. Parting ways in this case after the world-beating Penance Soiree in 2004, Slave Vows is that jolt to the equilibrium, a battle cry so loud as to defy you to even try and look away.
On another note, have you ever wished last year's massive Swans opus The Seer was somewhat more pocket-sized? Joe Cardamone is for all intents and purposes The Icarus Line these days and clearly he has done, in part creating just that here. The militaristic "City Job", for example, cruises into town guns blazing like some swarthy desperado, its crunching metal riffs ripped straight from Michael Gira's raw bosom. When the epic, eleven-minute opener eventually subsides from heavy repeats, drone and crackling feedback, Cardamone wearily croaks his way through the tension like Gira at his most unhinged too.
Slave Vows is far from aural fan-fic however. Cardamone has been in the game too long for such tawdry activity, and, now that's he's principally working alone - lead, rhythm, the works - he can stamp the LP with as little concession for populist motifs as he sees fit. As such, the guitar-work on "Dead Body" alternates between wailing and serrated, helping to usher in a veil of hard rock channelled directly from its aesthetic heyday over which a very angry Cardamone scorches his lungs with sound. Earlier, the seven-minute "Marathon Man" also sets the guitars to slay whilst borrowing some creepy garage-punk moves from likes of Grinderman to boot.
From here on in, Slave Vows is very much like leafing through Caradmone's private collection. This is personal, these songs a distillation of his life today. Inevitably, this throws up a few surprises such as the chugging, smash-and-grab blues of "No Money Music" and its distinct vocal distortion - strutting dalliances like "Don't Let Me Save Your Soul" thinking to include a chorus to then reel the wary back in. Frankly, it's all one great kick to the crotch. Let's not leave it so long next time, eh Joe?