11. Filth (1983)
Talk about a perfect title. This was the debut that saw Swans destroy everything else crawling out of the no-wave scene at the time. With two drummers on board, Filth is driven by almost danceable rhythms with a thick coat of grating noise. It's intentionally hard on the ears. All the early Swans material sounds like a clear product of its urban environment, like the industrial thrum of a sweatshop in an underlit back alley. Every song operates in the same mode: brutal skronk, Gira's shouts, and huge percussion ad nauseam. Lyrics are barked and repeated. Several songs end abruptly, like the tape was simply cut. Repeated listens reveal a band in full control of the clamor they're creating, but these aren't songs as much as a pure expression of artistic intent. They'd take this sound further over the next few years, but Filth stands as a testament to the power Swans have had since day one.