9. Cop (1984)
Picking up where Filth left off, Cop took the original formula to its most horrific conclusion. This is the nastiest Swans would get -- few bands would ever reach these depths. Gone is the second drummer, and with him the rhythmic thrust -- which means there's nothing to cling to when shit gets bad. And every second of this record is bad, if not horrible. Guitars are tortured through a sequence of chromatic non-riffs; feedback fills in the space like a web of tattered bandages. With slower tempos than before, weariness pervades the whole album -- it's the absolute absence of hope. Embodying the themes of the record -- oppression, pain, and degradation -- Gira sounds defeated by his own songs as he croaks out lines like "I know my place. I hide my stink. I need you more than I hate myself." Despite an obvious influence on later bands like Godflesh and Neurosis, there's really nothing else like Cop.