Unsane - Sterilize (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Sterilize (2017)

southern lord

I really enjoyed most of the stuff on Amphetamine Reptile Records in the 90’s. There was a great dive bar in Grand Rapids (RIP The Reptile House) where those bands seemed to play pretty regularly. I got to see a lot of them, including Unsane. Last year I revisited another old favorite from that scene in Helmet, and was very disappointed in the bland alt-rockers they’ve become. Fortunately, the same can not be said about Unsane. The New York trio is still playing the type of propulsive noise that made them a cult favorite more than two decades ago.

Sterilize comes five years after Unsane’s last album, and nearly 20 years after their classic Occupational Hazard. I was a little surprised to learn that the band has been continuously active since 2003, and has had the same lineup since 1994. It shows. This is a cohesive unit firing on all cylinders. “Factory” and “The Grind” are a solid one-two punch to start Sterilize. Brash, sometimes discordant and always heavily distorted guitars lead the way. A little distortion on the vocals also adds to the intensity. It’s sludgy and on the edge of chaos, but never entirely chaotic.

Unsane reminds me a bit of my favorite AmRep alum, Today is the Day. While TitD has ventured further into extreme metal, Unsane has stuck closer to their noisy, artsy roots. Angry songs like “Aberration”, “Lung” and “We’re Fucked” must be cathartic for the musicians playing them. There are little bits of melody in the vocals and guitar lines, but you have look hard to find them. “No Reprieve” is probably my favorite track, but all ten are solid. I’m glad to hear some younger bands playing in this style, but very few of them do it as well as these innovators do on Sterilize