A while back, I gave Unsane a nice little tongue bath -- one of my favorite-ever bands, legends in the field, etc. Left unremarked at the time: I hadn't heard their most recent album, 2007's "Visqueen." Yes, kind of weird to go four years without hearing the latest album by one of my favorite bands. But I kinda figured I knew what I'd be getting, the logical follow-up to "Occupational Hazard" and "Blood Run." Something cool but not mind-blowing.
I was kind of right but oh so wrong. Motivated by extreme enthusiasm for one of Chris Spencer's other projects, Celan, as well as the late-last-year release of a new Unsane single, I finally checked out "Visqueen." I may have telegraphed the punch: this may be the best thing they've done since at least "Total Destruction," if not earlier1.
"Visqueen" is just nasty. Furious, but with that tightly-wound control that's made Unsane such a mesmerizing and ominous force for (gulp) more than two decades. "This Stops at the River" and "No One" sound like a hate letter to New York. "Shooting Clay" and "Last Man Standing" and a couple other spots on the album bring the bluesy element that's always lurked in the depths of Unsane's music to the forefront -- it's like Robert Johnson's playing guitar with a crowbar, man2. "Eat Crow" and "Disdain" are familiar headcrushers. I could probably do without the eight-minute dirge that closes out the album, but what the hell, if I'm gonna hear an eight-minute dirge I'd prefer it be by Unsane.
This is the lost soundtrack to "Escape From New York." Snake Plissken would dig this. Goddamn Unsane, man. They're still touring, too -- I hope they make it down here sometime soon.
1 - Pitchfork gave this a 5.0 score. Here's a fun fact: Pitchfork sucks.
2 - I don't know what this means