Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography



Post Rock/Math rock

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Swans Greed album cover
3.46 | 35 ratings | 4 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

Buy SWANS Music
from partners
Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fool (5:23)
2. Anything For You (4:32)
3. Nobody (4:49)
4. Stupid Child (5:19)
5. Greed (6:17)
6. Heaven (4:54)
7. Money Is Flesh (6:20)

Total time 37:34

Bonus tracks on 1987 CD release:
8. Time Is Money (Bastard) (Single) (5:40)
9. Sealed In Skin (Single) (6:09)
10. Time Is Money (Bastard) (Mix) (7:05)

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Gira / vocals, samples, tapes, bass, production
- (Jane) Jarboe / backing vocals
- Norman Westberg / guitar
- Harry Crosby / bass guitar
- Ivan Nahem / drums

- Ronaldo Gonzalez / drums (1 & bonus tracks), piano (1)

Releases information

Artwork: Paul White @ ME Company with M. Gira (design)

LP K.422 ‎- KCC 2 (1986, UK)

CD K.422 ‎- CDKCC 2 (1987, UK) With 3 bonus tracks, from 1986 Single

Thanks to The Truth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy SWANS Greed Music

More places to buy SWANS music online

SWANS Greed ratings distribution

(35 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (51%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

SWANS Greed reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Prog Sothoth
3 stars It should be apparent that SWANS' inclusion within this site has little to do with this era of their discography, but Greed is certainly a significant album in terms of their development, and when this band is brought up amongst fellow ale-enthusiasts at my favorite watering hole, I tend to find that it's their early releases up through Children Of God that seem to garner the most attention, as these releases are remembered by underground enthusiasts of the 80's fondly for their notoriety and demented character.

As far as Greed is concerned, their sound had evolved from the crushing noise-fests of their prior full-lengths and the Young God EP by some adventurousness in instrumentation and style. "Fool" is a a percussion-less opener with a piano being the main instrument embellished with smatterings of guitar providing an extra layer of "melody" so to speak. Quite a surprise for fans who followed their trajectory I'm sure. What it lacks though in musical ferocity is compensated by the sheer emotional anguish presented by Gira's unapologetically blunt lyrics, dire and sadomasochistic.

"I'll cut off my right hand and stand in your shadow."

Not a typical song about devotion. These bizarre proclamations work due to Gira's vocal delivery, quite direct with an imposing tone. Nothing comes across as 'whiny' as throughout this release his voice alternates between baritone 'spoken word' recitement and harrowing bellows. The music for each tune is generally repetitive, stretching a singular idea throughout a song's entirety, which can become daunting in some cases. After the opener, things get heavier, emboldened by a powerful warhammer drum sound and guitars that often act like another percussion instrument rather than a source of melody. "Nobody" is a notable track in that it marks the introduction of female vocalist Jarboe into their fold, although she's regulated to haunting back-up vocals in a song that sounds practically ritualistic in nature. Very creepy and effective, and followed by the abrasive "Stupid Child" that bears strong 'industrial' characteristics and a sinister demeanor..

The sparse simplicity of some of these songs harbor a coldness that resonates well in providing a bleak atmosphere for the equally repetitive and seemingly straightforward lyrics, such as when Gira desperately roars "WE'RE IN HEAVEN!!!" as if it's the last place he wished to find himself. Like a jail cell.

It's not the sort of album I find myself listening to a whole lot, since each song makes its point early on and sometimes I find myself waiting for it to finish so I can get to the next hellish vision. The title track is pretty spooky (another featuring Jarboe on back-up vocals), but it really starts to wear out its welcome after a few minutes.

I generally do like playing this mean bugger on occasion, although regarding the "dollar sign" full-lengths, I tend to prefer Holy Money. Still, Greed possesses a few keepers, and makes for great listening at work as you can watch the morale of your coworkers deflate with each passing tune. It's an experiment I recommend trying at least once since the clarity of the tortured lyrics combined with the crawling waves of borderline musical accompaniment registers immediate impact on the unwary.

Review by TCat
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars So after 2 full length albums and several E.P.s, Swans had established themselves as a loud, churning, dark and sludgy industrial punk sound with primitive rhythms and sounds and very hard to understand lyrics. Swans was a big underground hit and the fans knew what to expect, simple, repetitive tunes that made you feel like you were not just in a funeral dirge, but were being dragged behind the procession in the mud face down. Imagine their surprise when they heard the first track on this album "Greed".

Immediately, they knew a something had changed. What is this....a piano? And this sounds like Gira singing, but I can actually understand what he is chanting/singing. With this album, the slow change had started in Swans overall sound. Though it sounded quite drastic on the first track, even though it is still dark and repetitive, the band was ready to explore new ground.

Like I said, the album starts out with the song "Fool", a dissonant and heavy piano leading the way with the guitar providing background sounds, no hammering percussion and there are lyrics that you can understand. Yes they are still depressing and bleak and the vocals are dissonant and heavy, but there is an obvious change. After that, the sound turns back to the industrial slow dirge- like beat that the fans were used to, but the sound is not a full return to the overall sound from before. The lyrics are easier to decipher and the music isn't as unrelenting. The repetition follows throughout the album, but the lyrics are so much more hard hitting now that you can understand them.

There are some new things the band is trying here too. This is the first album to feature vocals from Jarboe, even though she is a background singer on the 2 tracks she sings on. The title track plods on for almost 3 and a half minutes with wordless vocals, more like a moan/gasp sound from Jarboe, before Gira starts to sing. The closest thing to the previous sound is on the track "Heaven" which, even though it isn't as loud as before, it is the slowest grind of the album with Gira doing his groaning/moaning/singing/droning as before. He's singing about "This is Heaven" like he is pissed about being there. Quite frankly, this is the most evil sounding of all of the tracks, but it is also the most progressive. You will get the odd looks if you play this in public, so yes, it is reminiscent of their previous material. The last track on the original album is "Money is Flesh" which uses a synthesizer playing the main riff instead of the guitar, but other than that, it still pounds it's way into your a brain like a sledgehammer.

So, it's repetitive and overall still quite loud and grinding. But there have been some levers inserted into the music and you see a band starting to develop and pull itself out of the muck of their previous punk-ish version of industrial music. The music would continue to develop with each album after this and things would get better. As the band approaches more of a post-punk, mathcore sound, the music slowly gets better until they actually and surprisingly begin to produce some very innovative music. But as far as this album, it's still a long way from where they would end up. But it is interesting to hear where they came from and how they developed. This is better than previous albums, but not by much. I have to give them props though for having the courage to develop their music and their talents. This is progression, but not yet progressive. I will give this 3 stars simply because it is an attempt to try new things for the band. But it's still not easy to listen to too often.

Review by Dobermensch
4 stars I guess something had to give considering the pulverising onslaught of the previous recordings.

'Greed' reveals a stripped down 'Swans' and is a highly negatively charged album. It doesn't have the masochistic pleasure of the previous 'Cop'. Michael Gira's deep and aggressive vocals do however, remain. Here he sounds like he has a cement mixer where his larynx should be.

There's no happy go lucky pub-knees-up to be heard anywhere in the vicinity of 'Swans' at the best of times and this is no exception. In fact this is probably their most miserable sounding album they released. The opener has the eye rubbing inclusion of a piano. The half speed guitar plays the same 4 chord guitar sequence as Floyd's 'In the Flesh' and it's a real downer, so if you're not keen on heavy negative emotions you're advised to steer well clear.

Jarboe makes her first appearance as a member of Swans on 'Nobody' - a self-hating dirge that has some wonderfully apocalyptic 'Gira' vocals at the 3 minute mark as some crunching, repetitive drums appear. Jarboe's contribution is relegated to some 'oohs and ahhs' in the background. This is Swans' anti capitalist, money is evil recording. The drums are particularly well mixed in 'Greed' and have a doom-laden echoey feel. There's a clever approach on this album where quiet pauses are used which add to the overall feel of imminent looming disaster.

Musically it's nothing special. Quite poor in fact. It's the emotion and atmosphere it creates that raises this album above the sum of its parts. I wasn't aware of Michael Gira's state of mind until hearing this album which was the most vocal orientated to this point. You therefore pay more attention to what he's bumping his gums about - and it's not good. Not good at all. Clearly his brain was full of broken bottles.

The stodgy lethargy evaporates with the entirely Industrial 'Money is Flesh'. This is a repetitive, thumping, drum based mantra where once again it's the intense baritone and dominant vocals that make the track shine.

The undoubted highlight is the superb 'Time is Money'. An upbeat but really violent track with some very disturbing imagery. It's best I don't dwell on this here. Lets just say that it's sexual in nature. This is probably my favourite 'Swans' track of all time and it's also their most evil moment. The drums are pounding, relentless and machine-gun like. It's also guitar free. 'Gira' sings like he's just flown his kite into an overhead electrical pylon where he spits venom and vitriol from the outset. This is as loud as War itself.

'Greed' and its successor 'Holy Money' are two peas in the same pod. This could easily have been a double album but that would have left even the most strong willed left thoroughly suicidal.

The musicians must have left these recording sessions bewildered and totally dejected. There's no fun to be had at all. Every sound and beat is used as a vehicle for Michael Gira's demented, tortured and unhappy mindset.

Review by Kempokid
4 stars After 2 LPs of pure aural assault, 'Swans' take a bit of a left turn with their 3rd album, 'Greed'. The sound is more involved and layered than before, no longer just having the goal of repeatedly battering the listener over the head with simple, abrasive beats and showing pure anger through each screamed note and hard hits against the drums. Rather than being simply angry and aggressive, this album becomes downright depressing, with Gira's vocals being much more desperate and defeated, and the songs droning without the same punch as could be found on 'Cop'. Despite this, it's made up for by the eerie atmosphere that each song contains, making effective use of short moments of silence, providing a powerful feeling of isolation.

'Fool' is a very clear, direct way of expressing the change in sound that the band goes through here, having no percussion, with nothing but slow echoey piano chords with the occasional moment of guitar. This is complemented by the bleak lyrics and monotone singing of Michael Gira. 'Anything For You' displays the use of silence in the album, with the beat not being a constant wall of sound, but being quite empty sounding, with clear gaps throughout where there's nothing but vocals, sometimes not even that much. 'Nobody' and 'Greed' both share many similarities, both use Jarboe's vocals less as actual vocals, but instead editing and looping them in order for them to simply become another instrument. This goes to the point that in 'Nobody', they genuinely sound similar to a harmonica, to the point where that's what I thought they were for the first 5 listens of this album. Out of these two, I definitely prefer 'Greed' having the vocals have a near ethereal quality to them that contrasts perfectly with the dissonant riffs, harsh beat, and extremely unpleasant tone that the song has. 'Stupid Child' is a slightly quieter song with quite memorable, almost hypnotic drumming, being much more in the industrial vein compared to most songs on the album. 'Heaven' shows one of the first instances of 'Swans'' incredible buildups and climaxes to their songs, starting off similarly to most of the songs here, before building up, having Gira sound more and more desperate as it progresses, with this desperation turning into anger, until the song ends up sounding like the mutterings of a madman, truly an incredible moment. The closing track is by far the most violent and definitely one of my favourites on the album, having a beat that is reminiscent of 'Filth' in terms of the way it feels as if you're getting attacked with each smash of the drum-kit. I love the addition of the synthesizers, as it really gives this song an interesting edge to it, further increasing the empty feeling this album creates by replacing an instrument played by a human (the guitar is mostly absent from this song) with something artificial.

The atmosphere present on this album marks a definite step forward in 'Swans', being quite experimental with their overall sound while also not deviating from it in an extreme way, still keeping a general sense of bleakness and heaviness to everything, with their industrial sound still strong, especially towards the end of the album. However, the songs do have a degree of variation in them, not all sticking to a single tone and style, instead giving some identity to each song, whether it's through crescendos, lack of percussion, or even synthesizers, providing a more varied listen. While I still personally prefer the raw aggression of their debut album, I definitely prefer this to 'Cop'. This is also probably a slightly easier entry point into the band, although nowhere is really a great one, both due to how consistently inaccessible their music is, and because of how rapidly their sound changes anyway.

Best Songs: Fool, Greed, Money Is Flesh

Weakest Songs: None

Verdict: A slightly more experimental Swans album that still has its roots in their industrial sound. Atmospheric and uncomfortable to listen to, but a must for those who really like extremely heavy industrial music or those who like dense atmosphere and tone, as this album will appeal quite a bit.

Latest members reviews

No review or rating for the moment | Submit a review

Post a review of SWANS "Greed"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.