Unsane, Visqueen

Unsane, Visqueen

Unsane are a very simple band: the NYC threesome have spent their entire career perfecting the heavily syncopated and quite catchy midtempo hardcore that they developed in the late ’80s alongside Helmet and Rapeman. Unsane’s devotion to the ideal of elegant, uncomplicated violence is clearly evident on Visqueen, which delivers several badass tracks, like opener “Against the Grain,” follow-up “Last Man Standing,” base-loader “This Stops at the River,” or, god, cleanup hitter “Only Pain” — it’s a killer, isn’t it? These songs rock; there’s no better way to put it.

But Unsane is all rhythm; they’ve got no talent for leads, except as a sort of bonus rhythm, and even Chris Spencer’s vocals are percussive. It’s telling that Visqueen‘s weakest moments are the eight one-measure breaks given in “No One” to drummer Vinny Signorelli, a worthy rhythm player but an unimaginative soloist. To condemn the album solely for a lack of melody, though, is to beg the question of whether hardcore even needs melody. It’s just as likely that it doesn’t. After all, James Brown’s famous funk formula was that every instrument should sound like drums, even the vocals, and, hardcore being arguably the funkiest kind of loud rock, it’s difficult to pin down the reason why that philosophy doesn’t work as well for Unsane. Perhaps it’s merely that none of them had the good fortune to be born James Brown.

(Ipecac Recordings -- P.O. Box 1778, Orinda, CA. 94563; http://www.ipecac.com/; Unsane -- http://www.theunsane.com/)
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Review by . Review posted Thursday, April 12th, 2007. Filed under Reviews.

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