Swans' own siren of despair transmits her implacable beauty through this powerful set.
"The rest of the album is a journey through myriad musical styles and human emotions. The title track evokes medieval Europe in its instrumentation, while the lyrics and twisted singing evoke intense despair, through imagery like "a velvet box of his disease" and "fishes eating up to my skull". "The Cage" is repetitive industrial dirge, all droning guitars and sparse percussion. "Sinner" is gentle folk guitars giving way to orchestral doom and gloom. "Not Noah's Ark" is a collage of guttural groans and ear-piercing screams, punctuated by a short, disturbing narrative at its end. Perhaps most telling is "Circles in Red Dirt", a spoken-word piece with a protagonist named "Michel" (French for, what else, "Michael"), a tale of an intimate relationship always tinged with knives and hues of red. Various noisy bits provide transition, giving the album a cohesive, if slightly schizophrenic feel.
Anhedoniac is an intensely personal work of art, the sort of album that serves as something of a diary of its creator. In fact, it's personal to the point of being awfully close to uncomfortable to listen to; the musical ideas are always original and often very well-done, but they invariably take a back seat (we're talking third row here) to the various manifestations of Jarboe's voice and lyrics. It's an incredibly difficult, yet largely fulfilling listen, the sort of album that's bound to leave its target audience exhausted and satisfied. If you're the type of listener who values human emotion over things like beats and melodies, Anhedoniac will be intensely rewarding. For anyone else, caveat emptor." - Mike Schiller