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Album Review

Unsane's seventh studio album, 2012's simply but eloquently named Wreck, finds the New York noise-rock pioneers older, wiser, possibly not as angry as they once were, but no less miserable, either. In fact, if many prior Unsane records felt like a vicious kick administered by a bunch of steel-booted street thugs, Wreck feels more like waking up from a medically induced coma a few days later: the searing pain is blinding, the body useless, and the ears have no legs to give them escape. This may explain the nonchalant immunity with which a large number of patiently paced songs on hand, including "Pigeon," "Don't," and "Stuck" reveal themselves, then calmly state their sinister case with tormented melodies cast against the fundamental raw goods of the power trio lineup: the listener's helpless state requires no element of surprise, after all. LP bookends, "Rat" and "Roach" turn up the intensity significantly, yet, conversely, the exposed wounds and post-metal vibes of "Decay" are almost too acquiescent for Unsane. Meanwhile, the wailing harmonica on "No Chance" recalls the drunken tilt of innumerable, nameless homeless people and assorted gutter rats who once prowled the now totally gentrified Lower East Side where Unsane's urban nightmares originally played out in living color…or at least the same dreary gray monochromes as a Frank Miller graphic novel. Subsequent tracks like "Metropolis" and "Ghost" serve only to prolong the sonic punishment, culminating in a psychotic cover of Flipper's "Ha Ha Ha" that may as well double for the frail sanity of our friend — you know, the victim we last saw laying wrecked in the emergency room — finally snapping like a dry twig. Well, if that just about doesn't spell out "Unsane," what does? Wreck ain't perfect but it certainly does the Unsane legacy ample justice and should satisfy most fans' hankering for sonic self-abuse.


Formed: 1989 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

New York City's Unsane assisted in pioneering a more aggressive, less studied version of noise rock, one that blended the scum/art industrial sturm und drang of Foetus, the Swans, Einsturzende Neubauten, and Sonic Youth with the decidedly more straightforward hardcore idiom favored by acts like Sick of It All. While developing the blueprint for noise-metal bands to follow, Unsane cut a remarkable swath through underground music, inspiring a devoted, cult-like following around the globe. As a power...
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Wreck, Unsane
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