Alternative Tentacles
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Rat
02. Decay
03. No Chance
04. Pigeon
05. Metropolis
06. Ghost
07. Don't
08. Stuck
09. Roach
10. Ha Ha Ha (FLIPPER cover)

Twenty years of UNSANE and the admittedly "dirty and noisy on purpose" Brooklyn trio continues to stand well apart from the throngs of imitators. "Wreck" is about as UNSANE as UNSANE gets. Appropriately titled and as twistedly grooving as ever, "Wreck" is a one hell of a way to ring in the band's 20th anniversary. Greed may be good, but UNSANE makes noise even better.

If 16 is the West Coast's version of psychological bleakness and musical mind-melt, then UNSANE is the sonically disorienting version that serves as an alternative soundtrack for "Last Exit to Brooklyn". It's all here: Chris Spencer's vocal dementia and dissonant guitar clang, Dave Curran's menacing bass growl, and Vincent Signorelli's crackling drum beats. It's really quite impressive, the manner in which UNSANE takes a spiky, rumbling tune like "Rat" and makes it groove, even as those shards of dissonance fly out of the speakers in every direction. Then there is a descent into the dismal called "Decay" (well, of course it is) weaving sorrowful melodic leads and uneasy strumming into the mix. Even as the music bends, flirting with the breaking point all along the way, on "Ghost", one could almost call that jagged cadence peppy.

The strange beauty of it all is how this unit manages calamity, teetering on the edge of a cliff with nothing but the story of one's demise waiting below, and ends up staying a step or two away from the fall. It is darkest and colder than Siberia in winter on that precipice during "Stuck". But more often than not, is the involuntary teeth-grinding that occurs without the use of methamphetamines where UNSANE shines through the soot, as is the case on "Metropolis", one on which Curran's bass becomes the focal point of nasty. The one you'll find impossible to forget is "No Chance", perhaps the best example of UNSANE's oddly alluring blend of tunefulness, groove, and slithering disgust; and it's the harmonica that's the not-so-secret weapon employed to drive that point home. Make that a broken home. "Wreck" ends with the perfect cover choice: FLIPPER's "Ha Ha Ha". Yes, perfect.

If the texture you seek is of the smooth variety, then you would be well advised to look elsewhere; far away from the nerve-fraying musicality of UNSANE. Don't believe it? Give "Wreck" a spin after a few cups of coffee and try not to pick up smoking again. It can't be done.

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