Wednesday 11 October 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Unsane - "Sterilize"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 29/09/2017
Label: Southern Lord Recordings

  This is a flawless collection of bile-soaked missives that set the standard for riff-heavy, ugly noise rock in 2017

“Sterilize” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. Factory
02. The Grind
03. Aberration
04. No Reprieve
05. Lung
06. Inclusion
07. Distance
08. A Slow Reaction
09. Parasitic
10. Avail

The Review:

Like Helmet, Unsane appear to be experiencing a surge in popularity due to their strong influence on the current generation of noise-rock hellraisers. Both acts have recently been the subject of all-star tribute albums but whereas Helmet are now a shadow of their former selves, Unsane sound as hungry and volatile as a band entering the studio for the first time on new LP “Sterilize”.

Somehow I have never managed to hear a note of Unsane until now. It only takes a few seconds of non-nonsense opener “Factory” to understand how they have earned their fearsome reputation. Their combination of filthy bass, feedback-drenched guitar, pummelling drums and barked vocals at the point of collapse has provided the blueprint for countless underground trios since their inception in 1988. Tracks like “The Grind” and “Aberration” bristle with a dark, unhinged energy that gives “Sterilize” a vitality that today’s young pretenders can only dream of replicating, while the shards of broken, staccato riffage that usher in “Lung” sound like prime Shellac. It’s incredible that Unsane have managed to maintain this level urgency and intensity almost thirty years into their career.

The majority of this album is a relentless onslaught of churning, damaged racket but there are a few subtle variations in tone to keep the listener on their toes. “Distance” is the closest thing here to a proper song with what appears to be some almost conventional chord changes buried under the squall, but Unsane save the best for last with “Avail”. The track bristles with tension, switching between passages of brooding menace powered by a restless, circular bassline and outbursts of cathartic noise built around a gloriously primal riff. 

I can’t tell you how “Sterilize” compares to the rest of Unsane’s vast discography. What I can say is this is a flawless collection of bile-soaked missives that set the standard for riff-heavy, ugly noise rock in 2017

“Sterilize” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook