Unsane | Wreck

Alternative Tentacles (2012)
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  March 28, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars

In a lot of ways, the legacy of '90s rock is one of sheer ugliness — so many bands found so many ways to make so many genres sound so unrepentantly unattractive, whether it was the sonic miasma that was late-'90s nu-metal or the post-grunge dirty-blues thick sludge that was the prevailing sound of guitar rock throughout the decade. New York's Unsane were in some ways one of the grimiest, even when put up against contemporaries like Cop Shoot Cop or Jesus Lizard, with a guitar-led stomp that sounded like a 40-pound chain being dragged down a flight of stairs. But years of dedication to craft have brought a shocking sense of (almost) beauty to their sound for this, their seventh long-player and first for Alternative Tentacles. On opener "Rat" they plow through your cranium with their usual slow-bandsaw ferocity, but follow that up with "Decay," which splits the difference between intensity and a kind of strings-laden forlorn majesty. Things get more unpredictable from there — from the spread-out tribal stomp of "Metropolis" to the bluesy slow build of "Stuck" to the way that the guitars on "Pigeon" morph from gentle skittering moths around a flame to bludgeoning screaming feedback-squealing hammers. The structural maturity, in this case, is merely a Trojan horse, meant to smuggle in the music's core brutality in a facade of lean indie mournfulness.
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