Release DetailsLABEL Ipecac Recordings
RELEASED ON 4/13/2007
posted on 6/2007 By:
Ever since that video where skaters dined on pavement and extreme sports stars of every variety were punched off their respective way of locomotion by the fists of failure, I’ve been hooked on Unsane. The steady as a rock rhythms, that deep n’ dirty bass, and the strident screech of the guitars and vocals; all of it barely contained on a track, all of it mirroring the intricate ballet of a car crash. So, in the decade of the return, the “Let’s do it one more time (for money)!”, I was happy to hold Blood Run in my hands two years back, Unsane’s credible comeback to noisy side of rock/hardcore after nearly seven years of silence. Stripped of any production glamour, Blood Run was a tough and ready-to-fight junkyard mutt that showed that he remembered the old tricks (ass kicking), but trotted those tricks out with a new mindset, one that spoke of experience and maturity. It showed off the kind of self-awareness that older bands need--an understanding that the energy of their youth is long gone and they need to fulfill those (perhaps unfair) expectations of their fanbase in a slightly different way without foolishly Mick Jaggering around the stage while trying to come to grips with what pitches a tent in the pants of the new youth/new market.
Visqueen, Unsane’s first for Mr. Mike Patton’s Ipecac, is the natural continuation of the ideas expressed on Blood Run, an album that is so very Unsane, yet an Unsane that’s more mindful of their place in the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t rage quite like Occupational Hazard and those albums that came before, choosing instead to re-explore their back catalogue with an interest in the roots of rock, a light blues influence that rears its head a few times across this eleven-song set. But, don’t call it a reinvention, as the majority of the music contained within is unmistakably the brand of post-hardcore that the NYC natives have been destroying minds and ears with since 1989. All of these tracks contain the familiar trademarks: off-kilter and discordant lead riffs dangerously barreling out of the amps like the shrill sound of emergency braking, powerful, pounding percussion that’s so very precise, and the devastating low-end of the bass. Combined, it's like the audio embodiment of the shady side of the pre-Giuliani city on a particularly dangerous night.
So, with the band in great form, the highlights just seem like icing on the cake. “Last Man Standing”’s bridge drops into a groove that would be the catalyst for severing SoCal from the American mainland if it was played anywhere near the San Andreas, “This Stops At the River” incorporates a distorted blues harp to great effect, and “Only Pain” clearly shows that Unsane still has a place among those currently in vogue Washington collectives (Botch, Harkonen, These Arms Are Snakes, etc.) that built on the gifts Unsane helped spread across the extreme music landscape.
While the second half does lacks the punch of the first, as it feels more like a rehash of previous ideas, just hearing Curran’s bass, Signorelli’s drums, and Spencer’s guitar gelling to create sections that could loosely be described as a subway car hurtling towards its inevitable destruction, is one of life’s simple joys. The supposed lack of variation will be sure to draw the complaints of non-fans, but for those that have followed Unsane for any period of time, Visqueen is another comforting return, another small success. One gets the feeling that they're okay with just putting out decent albums now, content to hit the mark instead of trying to trump their past. They acknowledge that they're never going to recapture that youthful energy, but they never lose focus of what made Unsane great and what, as Visqueen proves, continues to do so. Sure, they may be playing for fans only at this point, but, to those fans, it’s an absolute treat to still have them around. I’m still hooked.
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