Subjective tropes associated with Swans and their music include:
- Archive Panic: Finding what song came from where in what version can be maddening to the dedicated fan.
- Crosses the Line Twice: The ballistic hardcore punk tribute "Freak" on Filth definitely qualifies, as do the monologue on "I Was A Prisoner In Your Skull" and the boisterously gruesome lyrics to "Reeling The Liars In".
- Crowning Music of Awesome: Lots of it.
- Some highlights: Their most ambitious (and, probably, best) studio material can be found on Soundtracks for the Blind and The Seer. 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.
- Epic Riff: "Raping a Slave".
- Face of the Band: Both Jarboe and Gira.
- He Really Can Sing In Audible Octaves: Gira on Children Of God and especially Love Will Tear Us Apart.
- Magnum Opus: 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 Magnum Opus.
- Nausea Fuel: "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.
- Nightmare Fuel: Have their own page.
- Paranoia Fuel: "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.