SWANS | FILTH
Family Average: 5/7
The best way I could paint this album out for someone who has never heard it would be a train made of scrap metal slowly rolling off the side of a cliff. How does that imagery sound? To me a little slice of heaven. Now that I am thinking of it I may have been slightly inspired by just seeing Thelma and Louise for the first time last night. Gosh now I am imagining what the tone of the film would have been like had Swans been able to do the score. Upbeat late eighties country pop would be swapped for grinding industrial post punk. Wow oh wow now that is what the flick was missing. LETS JUST KEEP GOING LOUISEEEEEEE.
Anyway now that that sidebar has run it’s course let me talk a little bit about this record. Swans put this album out in the heat of NYC’s No-Wave movement. Bands like DNA, Suicide, and IKE yard were putting out a new kind of sound. A sound that experimented with more noise, and dissidence. This was largely brought on buy the state of living in the city at the time. In the words Frontman Michael Gira’s words NYC was "in the throes of decay”. From all this turmoil comes this record. It’s intentionally monotonous, heavy, and brutal. The record lumbers forward and continues to drive its point further and further into your brain muscles.
Although I love how the repetition of the instruments constructs a mechanical/industrial vibe. The effect that the repetition has on the lyrics is especially exciting to me. For example when used in the song Blackout the phrase “Get Drunk” is repeated twice along with “Blackout” and “Don't Talk Until You're Spoken To”. With this repetition and commanding it takes on a more subversive meaning pointing out a problem of complacency in society.
It’s bleak, its beautiful and you should give it a shot.
This album is brutal. Brutalllll. It’s all venting and aggression — making big angry, ugly, grunting noise, slashing and crashing and bashing around. It’s repetitive, as chords are held for what feels like endless moments; the guitar is uneven and rough; the vocals are wild — bordering unhinged, and drums are coming at you from all sides, left, right and center. It’s a post post-punk noise album of the early eighties brought a hard edge to the industrial genre. Did I say it’s brutal?
However, once you fall into the oddly rhythmic and receptive slashing and bashing and crashing, you get into a sort of meditative and comfortable space. It’s an extremely weird thing to rationalize, but it happens, I promise. It’s a pretty exhausting listen, but it sort of reaches a point when your ears are hurting, your brain is throbbing, you’re left wondering “who hurt you?” and suddenly you’re in the thick of it with them. I’ve found myself putting a few of their tracks on when I am having a particularly trying day of work and I want to be left alone in a cone of screaming to soothe my own rage.
In the wise words of Lisa Simpson, “It may not be pretty, but dammit, it’s honest.”