Swans - Filth (Cover Artwork)


Swans: FilthFilth (1983)
Young God

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:

Contributed by: BrandonSideleauBrandonSideleau
(others by this writer | submit your own)

There are many bands that try to make brutally heavy music; a handful of those bands actually succeed, and then even less of those bands reach the terrifying level of intense brutality that New York's Swans delivered throughout the first half of their musical career (before they veered off into a so.
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There are many bands that try to make brutally heavy music; a handful of those bands actually succeed, and then even less of those bands reach the terrifying level of intense brutality that New York's Swans delivered throughout the first half of their musical career (before they veered off into a softer, although no less interesting direction until their demise in the mid-`90s). Thier first full-length album entitled Filth is an exhausting exercise in the art of noise terrorism and completely crushing brutality, and I absolutely adore it.

The music -- it consists of almost "industrial" (not the genre) sounding instrumentation similar to that of Einsturzende Neubauten, though less experimental and very straightforward. Heavy, crushing blasts of noise hit over and over and over again with vocalist Michael Gira going totally manic. The whole thing is really very simple, yet at the same time completely original and remarkably potent. My personal favorite track "Stay Here" is a perfect example of this: a brutal, metallic beat being played over and over again behind yelled and occasionally growled vocals. Lyrically the album is very dark, heavy and bleak, just like the music sounds, although there is definitely a sense of irony and satire in a few of the lyrics.

I should probably state now that this is definitely not for everyone -- this is extremely loud, brutal and uncompromising music not made with any "audience" or "scene" in mind. I get the feeling that this is what the world must sound like inside Gira's head -- and what a violent, terrifying and wonderful world that must be. It's hard to compare it to anything else...maybe a slight comparison to early Einsturzende Neubauten, and I know that the Wolf Eyes were in some way influenced by the Swans. However the Swans are far more structured. musically speaking. But you get the idea -- just that crushing, iron-hitting cement sound that pretty much makes everything else look soft by comparison.

Henry Rollins once said "It doesn't get any heavier than the Swans. That's pretty ultimate stuff" and I'd have to agree. My favorite tracks include "Stay Here," "Blackout," "Power for Power," "Big Strong Boss." If you think you can handle it then by all means pick it up, along with the albums Greed + Holy Money and Cop / Young God.

[Ed.'s Note: The cover shown is for the Filth reissue with bonus tracks as the original is proving hard to find.]


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Ikari (November 12, 2008)

Great record.

Anonymous (April 5, 2007)

SilentStorms: Your "interests" includes Thrice. Shut the fuck up.

SilentStorms (March 27, 2007)

There was no mp3 links for this, so I actually tried to listen to something that was made in the 80s thanks to Interpunk. Yikes...not a fan of these guys. 95% of the 1980's ... please ... please go away. Score is for the mp3 I heard called Clay Man - aka piece of fucking garbage.

darwingivingin (March 27, 2007)

jesus yes

BrandonSideleau (March 26, 2007)

thanks guys

Anonymous (March 24, 2007)

Hey guys.....I gave this album a 10 out of 10.....not an 8...please change the score.- Brandon Sideleau

RoyStorey (March 24, 2007)

I've only got The Great Annihilator, but I want to get more from this band.

Anonymous (March 23, 2007)

swans and sonic youth shared a practice space and toured together in their early days. you can hear thurston talk about them in the sonic death live cassete. he and lee ranaldo and michael gira all played in experimental composer glenn branca's ensemble.

theonetruebill (March 23, 2007)

good stuff

Ianw (March 23, 2007)

Yeeeeah, gnarlacious brutal shit.

Anonymous (March 23, 2007)

i think early swans is the only band that i actually find to be physically/emotionally exhausting to listen to. and i say that as a compliment, it's a statement about the sheer intensity put into their music. but there's only so much i can handle before i hit a point where i say "ok, i gotta stop now".

Anonymous (March 23, 2007)

glad to see some swans coverage here. i like the early stuff but my favorite stuff is the love of life and the white light from the mouth of infinity era.
the gira and jarboe solo records on alternative tenticles are pretty fucking great too.

strangenotes (March 23, 2007)

I've tried to get into Swans, but I don't know how successful that's been so far. All Rollins talks about in the later part of "Get in the Van" is Einsturzende Neubauten, it seems. I really wanna check it out.

Anonymous (March 23, 2007)

This was a major influence on Justin Broadrick at that time

mpc (March 23, 2007)

Very good record. I'm surprised to see this reviewed here. The only band I could really compare early Swans to is early Godflesh.

Anonymous (March 23, 2007)

fuck henry rollins.

Anonymous (March 23, 2007)

A seriously good record

Anonymous (March 23, 2007)

Welcome to 1983?

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