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Swans Filth album cover
3.65 | 70 ratings | 7 reviews | 32% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1983

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Stay Here (5:44)
2. Big Strong Boss (3:07)
3. Blackout (3:49)
4. Power For Power (6:03)
5. Freak (1:15)
6. Right Wrong (4:48)
7. Thank You (3:56)
8. Weakling (5:30)
9. Gang (3:20)

Total time 37:32

Bonus track on 2015 remaster:
10. Live tracks At The Kitchen NYC 1982/3 (24:18) :
- a) Strip/Burn
- b) Heatsheet
- c) Blackout
- d) Clay Man
- e) Stay Here
- f) Weakling

Bonus CD #1 from 2015 bundled reissues:
- "Body to Body, Job to Job" 1991 compilation -
1. I'll Cry For You 5:41
2. Red Sheet 3:11
3. Loop 33 0:59
4. Your Game 3:57
5. Seal It Over 3:48
6. Whore 3:56
7. We'll Hang For That 3:55
8. Half Life 3:57
9. Loop 21 1:26
10. Get Out 3:31
11. Job 5:40
12. Loop 1 1:01
13. Mother, My Body Disgusts Me 4:43
14. Cop 5:56
15. Only I Can Hear, Only I Can Touch. 2:41
16. Thug 9:44
17. Raping A Slave (Live tracks Berlin 1984) 9:02

Bonus CD #2 from 2015 bundled reissues:
- EP #1 -
1. Laugh 4:09
2. Speak 4:28
3. Take Advantage 4:35
4. Sensitive Skin 6:17
- Live tracks At CBGB, NYC, 1982-3 :
5. Living Arms 3:26
6. Howling Red Sheet 3:40
7. Big Strong Boss 2:46
8. Clay Man 4:56
9. We'll Hang For That 4:38
- Live tracks At Heaven, London, 1984 :
10. This Is Mine 7:02
11. Why Hide 8:36
12. I Crawled 7:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Gira / vocals, bass, tapes, co-producer
- Norman Westberg / guitar
- Harry Crosby / bass
- Jonathan Kane / drums, percussion
- Roli Mosimann / drums, percussion, tapes, co-producer

With:- Bob Pezzola / guitar (1982 EP & Live tracks)
- Daniel Galli-Duani / sax (1982 EP)
- Sue Hanel (Live tracks)
- Mojo (Live tracks)
- Dan Braun (Live tracks)
- Thurston Moore (Live tracks)
- Craig Cafton (Live tracks)
- Jonathan Prosser (Live tracks)

Releases information

Artwork: Paul A. Taylor

LP Neutral Records ‎- N11 (1983, US)

3xCD Young God Records ‎- YG48 (2015, US) Remastered w/ bonus Live track & bundled w/ 2 reissues: 1991 compilation "Boby to Body" (Out-takes & Live recordings) and 1982 EP#1 plus Live recordings

Thanks to The Truth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SWANS Filth ratings distribution

(70 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(32%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

SWANS Filth reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The debut album by SWANS is a full-on no wave experience which was a splinter from the punk culture in New York City in the late 70s and early 80s. It was in contrast to the new wave movement that it was specifically in reaction against which threw out melody and added healthy doses of abrasive atonal sounds, hypnotic repetition of rhythms with the emphasis on musical texture.

I have also heard it referred to as a branch of noise rock and that does have validity to it since there seems to be regular rhythmic drumming that is the canvass for all kinds of chaotic sounds to flow around creating strange swells of sound. The fact is that despite being called no wave this reminds me of the waves in the ocean in a way where they come ashore in regular intervals but each one has its own chaos embedded in its regularities. Swirling in eddies and irregular patterns until they crash violently against the land.

SWANS takes the no wave approach into new arenas. They were one of the few no wave bands to actually stick around long enough to develop their own sound and this debut album has been described as "the ideal soundtrack for mass suicides or nuclear holocausts." Hardcore it is with it's depression inducing stridency and total lack of anything remotely melodic with the distortion of heavy psych and the screamed vocals that remind me a bit of the sludge metal band Neurosis. Also in the mix are industrial type sounds that add yet another layer of bleakness and robotic detachment from finding that happy space. This is dark and sinister sounding. Despite having little melody the undulating sonic waves are strangely addicting making this unique experience a very interesting debut album.

Review by Dobermensch
4 stars I don't know about you but this gets me pumped up like nothing else and I'm now ready to burst through walls with bare fists.

This first Lp by Swans is also one of their best. 'Mr angry' Michael Gira vents his spleen at all who are willing to listen. Agonised barks and shouted vocals about control and violence are at the forefront throughout this beastly 1983 outing. Seriously... this can't have been good for his health at all. His blood pressure must have been through the roof. The man clearly had some issues.

The music within sounds like how the iconic cover looks - visceral. It's a weirdly paced explosive Blitzkrieg of an album.

It's brutal stuff from beginning to end. There's no variation in mood and it's all atonal and nihilistic. Having dual drummers and a thumping repetitive non melodic bass makes a huge impact on the overall bludgeoning sound. It's like being repeatedly hit over the head with a shovel . Not just musically, but lyrically too, as lines are growled many times over. Subtle use of electronics and tapes add an extra dimension - it's incongruous hearing backward wobbly vocals on such a raw album

Deliberately there's no let up. No break in mood, just an all encompassing, pulverising psychic attack. 'Filth' is more lively than their following 3 albums which just leave you feeling shattered. This is therefore a less dismal listening experience. 'Filth' is an ideal listen for participating in endurance sports, as it squeezes every ounce of blood out of your pores.

The guitars played by Norman Westberg sound like some crazed Doctor sawing through bones. They're mean and dark and sound like they're being played with shards of glass rather than plectrums. They are used solely in conjunction with the pounding drums.

Some have called this the heaviest record ever made. It's not. My vote for that award probably goes to 'Dissecting Table', 'Merzbow' or early 'Controlled Bleeding'. However it certainly must be the heaviest album to appear in the 'Archives'. I'm sure most of this websites readers would feel as though they're being run over by a steam-roller in slow motion on first exposure to this aural assault.

'Filth' is an exhilirating and intense experience which will leave you baying for blood. If the Marquis de Sade were alive today, I'm sure it would have been his favourite 'Desert Island Disc'.

You can put the party hats and streamers away folks.

This is military boot camp stuff run by an angry drill Sergeant, so get down on your hands and knees and give me 100 press-ups. Now!

Review by Warthur
3 stars With Jonathan Kane and Roli Mosimann's duelling percussion creating the impression of an angry heroin-addicted trash can stomping down the street intent on mugging you, the Swans' debut album is as pure and uncompromising an expression of their early No Wave sound as you could expect to find.

Though subsequent releases like Cop can become introverted and impenetrable, the sound of Filth hooks you instantly with its raw ugliness; far from being indirect or oblique, it comes at you straight and true and confronts you with a hideous musical vision. The flipside of that is that it's not necessarily a musical vision you would want to spend much time with - it's a statement of intent that is so clear, pure, and simple, that it feels less like nine ways to make more or less the same point.

Whilst heavier albums in terms of sheer downtuned riffage have emerged over the years, few releases have ever felt so misanthropic and violent. I am fairly sure nobody was bloodily beaten to death during the recording of this album, but if they were I'm not sure it would change the sound appreciably. Whether this is necessarily something you want to revisit regularly is another question.

Review by Kempokid
4 stars The title says all. This album is just extremely disgusting sounding in many ways, ranging from the harsh industrial beats, to the deranged, aggressive screaming of Michael Gira. Each song here is filled with such visceral rage that while being somewhat uncomfortable to listen to, manages to end up sounding pretty great.

The songs are very repetitive, focusing on a couple of rhythmic patterns with constant, pumping, noisy drums, while simple phrases such as "flex your muscles" are repeated ad nauseum. The songs all have a similar, intense, off-putting nature to them, some, such as 'Big Strong Boss' being downright terrifying with high pitched screeches and a feeling that something is hunting you down, feeling as if you're being chased by some unknown force. As a whole, the album is incredibly cohesive and unified in sound and tone all the way through, each track being downright ugly, straightforward, repetitive and downright amazing for how unsettling and violent it gets.

I can't really talk too much about individual tracks here, as they all share extremely similar attributes, and are very similar quality-wise. Tracks that are the exception to this are 'Stay Here' and 'Big Strong Boss', which each are highly memorable. 'Stay Here's' hook is the one that will always get stuck in my head, the yelling of "flex your muscles" as a heavy, industrial groove blares is something that I doubt I'll forget at any point soon. 'Big Strong Boss' follows this by picking up the pace and heavily utilising high pitched noise.

This is unrelentingly heavy all the way through, providing no respite at all throughout its relatively short run-time, making every second of this just further aural bombardment, which while initially quite unlistenable, grows on you and ends up becoming an incredible experience. This is not an easy album to listen to by any means, but it is one that if you can deal with an obscene amount of noise and dissonance, I highly recommend for an extremely visceral experience. While I can't rate this perfectly, due to the fact that it never reaches a high enough point to warrant that, it's a damn great album nonetheless.

Best Songs: Stay Here, Big Strong Boss, Weakling

Weakest Songs: none

Verdict: Extremely difficult listen, but an overall rewarding one. Highly recommended for anyone who can deal with a lot of noise.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Sometimes, it's hard to believe the person responsible for this brutal and heavy no-wave music is the same person responsible for the progressive masterpieces they would produce in the future. Michael Gira says about the band's formative years that it just felt good to make music as loud and harsh as possible, and that is what they did.

"Filth" is Swans debut album, released after their first EP. The music here continues in much the same vein, however, there had already been a disruption in the band's line up since then. Using two bassists that double over the same chord, and two drummers using angular and chaotic drumming patterns, Swans used noise and power to get their point across and to make songs that lamented about the societal disfunctions the world was experiencing.

Since this album was released in 1983, it was a musical style that was way out of the norm of the music of the time. Even punk music couldn't match the straight ahead, unrelenting sound of this music, and because of that, the album was pretty much ignored by the masses. However, it was still very influential to the many different heavy styles of music that are currently out there now.

The music is unrelenting and noisy, yet it has a certain swing to it that keeps it moving forward. Where the band's sophomore album "Cop" has the feeling of a tyrannosaurus rex slogging through a tar pit, slow and brutal, this album is comparatively up beat, but that's not saying much so don't get the wrong idea. This album is actually easier to listen to, not quite so depressive, but again, that's like comparing mud to thickening cement. Swans through the years have seemed to center their musical wanderings based on repetitive patterns and pushing them to the limit. That is also the case with this album, but the main difference between this one and much of their earlier work, is that there is a lot more diversity amongst the tracks, and that is the main strength of this album in comparison to their other early albums.

Even with the positives of this album, however, it's still hard to rate it higher than a 3 for me, though if it were possible, I would give it 3 1/2 stars compared to 3 or lower for their other early albums. It is my favorite of their early recordings. If you have heard their later albums, the ones that are more progressive, and never heard their earlier albums, just be warned this is nothing like that. However, keep in mind that this music is still very influential for heavy music to come. Listening to it, I can't help but admire that it was so ahead of it's time.

Latest members reviews

3 stars This was my first SWANS album and it is the only one that I can get in to. Filth is an album full of chaotic noise that is augmented by two bassists, two drummers, and a single guitar player. Micheal Gira's growling, ugly vocals add to the soundscape. The album isn't as proggy as the later albums an ... (read more)

Report this review (#2435058) | Posted by progtime1234567 | Tuesday, August 4, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The world through The Fall's Paul Spector's eyes: 7/10 If black metal brings images of dense, foggy trees, FILTH is illustrated both by rusty, abandoned factories and by darkened alleyways of decaying metropolises. SWANS' debut's combination of No Wave's unmelodic heavy dissonance and Industr ... (read more)

Report this review (#1787798) | Posted by Luqueasaur | Wednesday, September 27, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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