From the crooked teeth and shattering black background, there is this fear that continues to replicate itself and disperse through the record. Filth opens with “Stay Here” which is a low-tuned grumbling mess of bass and feedback. It is ultimately exhilarating and captures the ears immediately, orchestrating all eyes to be on Swans while watching from afar. Swans instead opt to be right in the face of the audience while vocalist, guitarist, and bassist Michael Gira shouts, “Flex your muscles, be hard” as if he was a feral instructor.
Both Jonathan Kane and Roli Mosimann on percussion and drums are vital members of Filth as the percussion throughout most of the instrumentals and the programming comes to be lucid, but vicious. Even through this dreamscape, the work of Harry Crosby on bass and Norman Westberg on guitar are clear as day.
The bass especially from Crosby is demanding and reflective of some of the elements that come to fruition in most modern aggressive records. The combination of percussion and bass on the track “Power For Power” really stands like a monument to aggression and displays of crushing inflection. Swans are difficult to really discover a groove with sometimes, but Filth embraces that difficulty and makes it one of the selling points of persuasion for the record.
“Power For Power” especially is draining and off-putting, but nonetheless makes an effort to be strange. The methodology and style of Filth is to inflict an uneasiness to the mixing and through the 36 minutes and nine tracks, Swans are challenging if nothing else.
Later pieces like “Right Wrong” are able to thrive from using off-beat notes to stumble and purposely fall out of place while the instrumental becomes rawer and sedated. Filth as a project really begins to fall apart as it continues on, but not in a sense of quality. Instead, the fabric of note structure and progression becomes a diluted substance. Soon, Swans is this scrambled mess of noise and wires coming through the speakers, using that unprecedented tonality to format this freeform sense of power.
Filth takes the audience through different layers of looping production and heated arguments through lyrics. Not one second on Filth gives warmth or emotional attachment to the record in sincerity. Instead, the audience is isolated and treated like a sonic prisoner forced to endure the chaos that Swans thrive in.