Coming off the second-longest recording hiatus of their career, NYC's Unsane have finally emerged with their first new LP since 2007. After that kind of pause, the fact that they can lock right back into street-fighting shape is extraordinary, but they're not living legends of the hard underground for nothing. Besides, this is a band accustomed to getting back up against great odds. There may be more measure and control in their delivery now, but that often makes their onslaught that much more deliberate and concentrated.
But whatever small tweaks there are in their scummy noise-rock attack, you just have to respect how intent they are on preserving the essential Unsane template of jackhammering grooves, sonic corrosion and a bare-knuckle core that rumbles with virility and last-resort intensity. And the singular thuggery of their urban dystopia terror-vision still thrills here. If anything, the songs on Wreck – whose teeth will grind you like cud – are a bloody reminder of the astonishing focus of Unsane's aesthetic. The threat they muster is basic, primordial even, but completely maxed. There are no arty or high-minded trifles to distract or in any way temper the seething, undiluted menace. Nothing. This is some straight-up gully shit here.
Just check out the abusive, dragging gait of “Rat” or the scraping rock of “Don't” to be infected. Better yet, dive into the grimy, dangerous gutter groove of “No Chance” or their brilliantly maniacal cover of Flipper's “Ha Ha Ha.” You'll really need a shower after that.
An impressively nasty record, Wreck is a staggering testament to Unsane's visceral power and stamina. More than 20 years in and there's practically zero relenting in their snarl. This isn't some fetishized metal-nerd fantasy of brutality. This unprocessed, unblinking and uncompromisingly ugly album is more like a harrowing trip back to Travis Bickle's New York City, a place where the divide between humanity and animalism is a convergent blur.
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