* ArchivePanic: Finding what song came from where in what version can be maddening to the dedicated fan.
* CreepyAwesome: Too many songs to choose from, but the entirety of the albums ''The Seer'', ''To Be Kind'', and especially ''Soundtracks for the Blind'' stand out.
* CrossesTheLineTwice: The ballistic {{hardcore punk}} tribute "Freak" on ''Filth'' definitely qualifies, as do the monologue on "I Was a Prisoner in Your Skull" and the [[LyricalDissonance boisterously gruesome lyrics]] to "Reeling The Liars In."
* CrowningMusicOfAwesome: Lots of it.
** Some highlights: Their most ambitious (and, probably, best) studio material can be found on ''Soundtracks for the Blind'', ''The Seer'', and ''To Be Kind''. Amongst their live material, ''Swans Are Dead'' is two hours and twenty-three minutes and all of it is amazing. ''The Great Annihilator'', ''White Light from the Mouth of Infinity'', and ''Children of God'' are particularly noteworthy works as well.
* EarWorm: "Celebrity Lifestyle" is particularly noteworthy in this respect.
* EpicRiff: "Raping a Slave" and "The Sound," in completely different ways.
* FaceOfTheBand: Both Jarboe and Gira.
* [[HeReallyCanAct He Really Can Sing In Audible Octaves]]: Gira on ''Children Of God'' and especially ''Love Will Tear Us Apart''.
* LoveItOrHateIt: Their music could either be the greatest thing you'll ever hear or the most unlistenable.
* MagnumOpus: Gira seems to regard ''The Seer'' as this, and sizeable portions of both rock critics and the fanbase seem to agree. The fact that it got 9.0 and Best New Music on Pitchfork has probably helped expose the band to a lot of new listeners. Before that, ''Soundtracks for the Blind'' was generally regarded as their MagnumOpus.
** Consensus on ''To Be Kind'' seems to be that it's an EvenBetterSequel, or at least, every bit as good as ''The Seer''.
* NauseaFuel: "Your Game" on ''Body to Body, Job to Job''.
** The lyrics are Gira reciting a short story he wrote, later to be published in his book ''The Consumer'', filled with other equally disgusting and disturbing stories.
* '''''NightmareFuel''''': [[{{NightmareFuel/Swans}} Have their own page]].
* NoHitWonder: Were this for many years, despite moderate acclaim and a cult following. After their 2010 reunion, this was ''finally'' overcome when ''To Be Kind'' hit #37 on the ''Billboard 200'' in 2014. Now, with three hugely acclaimed albums and even a hit one, they seem to have hit more MainstreamObscurity status.
* SignatureSong: "Cop", "I Crawled", "Children of God", and "Blind" all held this distinction, but as of 2014, "A Little God in my Hands" has a slight edge in this race.
* ParanoiaFuel: "Not Alone" from ''Swans Are Dead'', most of ''Soundtracks for the Blind'', the interludes from ''Love of Life'', "Look at Me Go"...
* TearJerker: Often, the most famous being "God Damn the Sun."
** The final chorus to "Blind:"
-->''No, I was never young,\\
and nothing has transpired,\\
and when I look in the mirror,\\
I feel dead,\\
I feel cold,\\
I am blind.''
** There's also "Helpless Child," which can drive pretty much anyone to suicidal ideations. The triumphant, roaring ending crescendo of the song can either make it even more depressing or uplifting, depending on your point of view.
** "The Sound," which begins with a downcast vocal section by Michael Gira before transitioning into a breathtakingly beautiful crescendo also stands out, and is one of the more famous tearjerkers in the band's discography.
** "Song for a Warrior," a SurprisinglyGentleSong that provides a much needed reprieve in the middle of all the darkness of ''The Seer.'' "A Piece of the Sky" also qualifies.