Release Date: Sep 29, 2017
Record label: Southern Lord Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Hardcore, Indie Rock, Noise-Rock
Since their self-titled debut record came out nearly three decades ago, noise rock legends Unsane have been creating a blueprint for the genre to follow. Sterilize, their first album since 2012's Wreck, is an intense ride through conventional rock crafted with an ugly, chaotic sense of aggression that shows the band have no plans of ending their reign over the genre. From the opening notes of "Factory," the band set a fierce pace for the record as they trudge through a swarm of feedback-laden riffs and wailing vocals backed by their ….
Twenty-six years on from their debut album, you might imagine that Unsane have calmed down a bit, that as more mature artists their approach would become less violent and more nuanced. You would be very, very wrong. In the 21st century, Unsane have been producing music that lives up to the high standards of feral aggression they displayed in the early '90s, and like 2007's Visqueen and 2012's Wreck, 2017's Sterilize is raw, unrelenting rock music that unapologetically draws blood.
Few bands have cultivated an aesthetic so perfectly matched to their sound as Unsane. One could almost use the word “elegant” to describe this marriage if it wasn’t one of such unrelenting brutality. So evocative is the NYC trio’s visual panache that it’s almost impossible to hear their muscular, bone-crunching noise rock without immediately picturing the bloodied tools and broken limbs that plague their merchandise and album artwork.
I really enjoyed most of the stuff on Amphetamine Reptile Records in the 90’s. There was a great dive bar in Grand Rapids (RIP The Reptile House) where those bands seemed to play pretty regularly. I got to see a lot of them, including Unsane. Last year I revisited another old favorite from that scene in Helmet, and was very disappointed in the bland alt-rockers they’ve become.