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Sterilize Jack Pudwell , October 3rd, 2017 12:39

Oddly comforting bicycle-chain-being-fed-through-an-industrial-meat-grinder riffs, sinewy rhythm section and pained yowling from Unsane.

Few bands have cultivated an aesthetic so perfectly matched to their sound as Unsane. One could almost use the word “elegant” to describe this marriage if it wasn’t one of such unrelenting brutality. So evocative is the NYC trio’s visual panache that it’s almost impossible to hear their muscular, bone-crunching noise rock without immediately picturing the bloodied tools and broken limbs that plague their merchandise and album artwork. Even the most cursory of dives into their back catalogue will tell you these boys are absolutely smitten with extreme violence and the results it can yield. It’s their lifeblood, their speciality and the venom which spurs the rusted machine onward.

Morbid fascinations are hardly uncommon within the realm of heavy music but it’s decidedly rarer for this obsession to manifest itself in such a grounded manner. Many others may opt for cartoonish hyperviolence and schlock but Unsane’s attitude towards death and violence is rooted firmly in reality. They depict these things not as mere occurrences but cold, hard facts. The drab consequences of simply existing. A cadaver in a stained body bag is an almost-trivial prop in the hands of these nihilistic fiends.

Those already tuned in to this chipper wavelength will be delighted to learn that Sterilize is yet another triumph in a discography marked by unwavering consistency. The bicycle-chain-being-fed-through-an-industrial-meat-grinder riffs, sinewy rhythm section and pained yowling that we’ve come to know as their trademarks are ever-present and there’s an effortless fury to the proceedings which suggests a youthfulness currently eluding the majority of their peers. You could queue up any of these tracks next to ‘Scrape’ and wonder if the band have aged at all in the 22-year interim.

Despite the fact that listening to one of their albums in full feels like a 40-minute bludgeoning, there’s something oddly heart-warming at play here. Unsane are not chameleons or shapeshifters but rather stoic veterans unashamed to continue honing a sound many would argue they perfected decades ago. The cacophony that once seemed so petrifying is now the personalised ringtone you might set for an old friend, and that’s absolutely fine. In these uncertain times of potential nuclear annihilation it’s deeply comforting to know that the band most capable of soundtracking it are still with us and ready to rage at the push of that big red button.