A terrible wind blows through a disease-ridden city and its inhabitants cry out with anger and pain. This is sickness. This is a plague. This is a festering, decomposing body. This is Filth. This is not an album but a musical world, and one in which one must immerse oneself in and once inside will be brought down to its disgusting, depressing level (and cannot leave)
Micheal Gira howls like a leper over discordant noise and feeling. Jonathon Kane contrasts his painful vocals with stark and functional drumming. To comment on any specific song would be frivolous as one cannot listen to specifics. You must experience this as a whole, just as any illness is experienced. Lived in, and persevered to the end.
Nowhere in Filth is there any sign of recovery or a light at the end of a pitch-black tunnel. There is only impenetrable noise and audible terror.
At first this noise seems inhuman but as you delve further and further it seems that these monstrous sounds are people at their most vulnerable and visceral. Gira is baring his soul and never before or since have I heard such an admission of raw and intense feeling through the medium of music. And when the nightmare is over one finds oneself in a euphoric state; you have left this death-town but in the back of your mind you know that you must sleep again.
To me this is a bold and unmitigated statement of individuality and originality and came at a time when these qualities were, and indeed still are, reviled and rejected by record companies and by popular opinion. It begs comparisons to bands such as The Velvet Underground (In particular their debut) as they have both started their musical careers with uncompromsing and often brutally punishing music. The Velvets, in their time were almost completely ignored and it is only in the last decade that they have shown to be the most important band of their time in terms of influence. This story ties in nicely with that of Swans. I myself can see the obvious influences that this record (and its follow up "Cop") has had on contemporary Avante-Garde bands such as Godspeed! you black Emperor, Neurosis and Godflesh (now Jesu). These records come along only every twenty or so years and change all previous preconceptions about what music can achieve. Although the schism felt through the underground scene post Filth has brought the world of Avant-Garde music forward through the aforementioned bands (to name a few) the record today sounds as repulsive as it did back then. That is why it is important. ( sputnik music )