Unsane - Blood Run - Relapse Records 2005
Running Time: 43:47
Since 1988, New York's Unsane have blazed a trail through conventional hard music, and in turn influenced Quicksand, Therapy?, 16, and a host of others who - to varying degrees of success - have widened that trail to the size of an expressway over the past decade. Unfortunately, the future of Unsane has always been tenuous, so much so that it was difficult to tell if last year's career-spanning retropsective, Lambhouse, was a final kiss-off or a prodigal's return.
Fortunately for the masses, main Unsane Chris Spencer has seen fit to regroup, retool, and revive Unsane for yet one more trinitarian assault on all that is bright and smiling. The lurching 'Backslide' brims over with discordant, angular screech and bass-heavy swagger, stating that (for now at least) Unsane has come to retake the bloodied throne of sludge-core, and God help anyone who thinks otherwise. When they're "on", Unsane creates some of the most volatile, disjointed riffs ever laid to tape, and much of Blood Run finds the band more "on" than they've been in a long while. Having seen Page Hamilton seemingly lead his "reformed" Helmet down the path of least resistance, it's good to know that Unsane are still most satisfied when inciting cringes with their lyrics (as in the bludgeoning 'Got It Down') or pits with their musical unsanity (pun intended). Still and all, the manic side of Spencer rears it's head in 'Make Them Prey', with the lyric "Stop bawling, I know you're prey." preceding by only seconds the pleading "All I want is sanctuary.". The amphetamine- riddled 'D Train' takes all the adrenalized urgency of life in New York City, crushes it into less than three minutes, and shoves it out through the speakers, only to make way for the baseball bat in the knees that is 'Anything', each snare crack a shattered bone, each slash across the strings a severed artery. Of course, those familiar with Unsane know that the band can be as melodic as it is grating. This time around, Unsane has seen fit to let most of the melody rest until the epic dirge of 'Dead Weight' gives last rites over Blood Run with creeping basslines and guitars that create a musical precipice inched along by vocals that seem almost an afterthought.
Other bands may do it with more frequency, but no one does it better than Unsane. Misanthropic, angst-ridden, and bleeding its art with no regard for what's fashionable, Blood Run is the sound of the lunatics not only taking over the asylum, but setting fire to it and dancing in the flames.