With fresh reissues and restocks inbound, there is no better time to reflect on 'the band to end all bands'.
Swans have arguably transcended every genre they have touched since their formation in the early 80s, but it all had to start somewhere, and that somewhere is their crushing no-wave debut, 'Filth'.
Violent, primal and droning, 'Filth' tears its way through nine tracks of brutal and depraved rock. Rythym is used as an instrument of blunt force trauma rather than groove, aiming to destroy listeners with hypnotic catharsis.
This is the musical equivalent of a boot to the face and has never sounded this hard or vile. Building on other no-wave pioneers such as Suicide and early Sonic Youth, Swans opted for a harsher industrial sound that grants no mercy in their experiments with noise.
Opener 'Stay Here' is a primal display of chest-out, fist clenched minimalist rock as it's five and a half minutes break in the listener with Michael Gira's unforgiving, shouted refrains. Other highlights include 'Gang' and 'Blackout'.
The album captures the urban decay of its native New York at the time, and this is the unfiltered nihilism at its absolute depths. Swans across their career build on this sound by taking this violence and converting it into euphoria, which begins arguably with the introduction of Jarboe as a primary band member, best heard on 'Children of God'.
'Filth' is a jarring and oppressive listen recommended not for the faint of heart, but is still essential listening.
'Filth' and other Swans works are available in the Store now.
'Where Does A Body End?' is a documentary currently available through Young God Records, which is also highly recommended.
An incredible band in both in the initial brutal form right through the 90s and then the 2010 reboot. Fortunate to have seen them on the “To Be Kind” tour.