Damn, it is real hard to believe that Unsane is still going strong (minus a break from 2000-2003) almost twenty years after initially forming. Like many people, my knowledge of the band originates with seeing their video for "Skrape" on MTV many moons ago. The gnarly visuals (predating CKY, MTV's Jackass, or Scarred) of skateboarding accidents instantly made me a fan. Others may recall the graphic visuals that adorn their album covers. Think back and you might remember the "Member's Only" jacket wearing victim of subway decapitation on their S/T album or their more recent cover for Blood Run featuring a young, bloody girl in a bathtub. Either way, with an Unsane album, one can expect the cover art to be fairly representative of the dense noise that is present on the actual album.
Visqueen, Unsane's sixth or ninth album (depending on who you want to pay attention to) shows the band in fine form with no intention of getting soft. "Against the Grain" opens the album with a great sounding guitar. The clean guitars balance well with the beefy distorted tones. The rhythm is slow but driving. The mood of "Last Man Standing" can be compared to the feeling of being run over by a bulldozer. It just keeps rolling through a thick wall of noise, real good stuff. I really dig the band's use of the harmonica in "This Stops at the River;" it acts as a neat compliment to all of the little guitar flourishes that are present in the song. The bass sound in "Only Pain" is so bottom heavy. That along with the pleading vocal delivery really makes the song.
"Windshield" sees a return to some of the guitar tones of "Against the Grain". The guitar work of "Windshield" is good and seems to include a bit of bottleneck playing. The basslines really keep the song moving while the guitar parts lay out some real grating dissonant sound that is done the right way. The vocals for "Shooting Clay" are just downright burly sounding. The cadence of the delivery makes the harsh vocals that much more punishing. The pounding drums and bass and sound of (what I think is) a jackhammer make a great visual for the song "East Broadway". These New Yorkers actually represent the sound of their city well.
Visqueen is a gnarly mass of noise that sounds like the soundtrack to getting repeatedly pummeled in the stomach. Unsane continue to produce albums of thick guitars and driving rhythms. They are in a class of few who seemingly create ugly music for the sheer joy of hurting listeners over a long period of time. Thankfully the band creates a sound of the seedy underside of music that contrasts with the overproduced crap that is out there now.
7.8 / 10
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