Unsane have made a career out of making ugly music, and they maintain this tradition with Wreck, their first full-length in five years and a true return to form. The bloodlust displayed on opener “Rat” and “Ghost” recalls 1995’s Scattered, Smothered & Covered (arguably the strongest and most visceral record of the band’s career), and should have old-school fans salivating. The songs are underpinned with the clattering drum abuse of Vinnie Signorelli and crunchy, jarring basslines of Dave Curran, allowing vocalist/guitarist Chris Spencer to run rampant. He sprays angular and scraping chords in every direction, howling like a demented prophet with an intensity that is never less than gripping.
The band don’t spend all 10 tracks holding a broken bottle to the listener’s throat, though. The punch-drunk “Pigeon,” for instance, is unsettling as it staggers along, though the six-minute “Stuck” is the real standout. With sleepy slide guitar trickling over its understated verses, and providing a lull prior to its gargantuan choruses, it brings to mind In Utero-era Nirvana, drenched in whiskey-soaked regret but not quite ready to throw in the towel.
The band wrap the record up with a slow-motion cover of Flipper’s “Ha Ha Ha.” Somehow, they make the sneering mockery of the original even more contemptible—which is no mean feat—and make it fit seamlessly alongside the nine originals. It goes without saying that Unsane have never made for an easy or comfortable listening experience; with Wreck, established fans have great reason to maintain their faith, while newbies may well have just found their new favorite band.
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