Essential New Music: Unsane’s “Sterilize”

Aside from existing and surviving through the trials and tribulations that follow being a band for 29 years, Unsane’s second biggest achievement is how it has stuck to a formula over the course of that time and thrived in the process. Heck, even Green Day sounds nothing like it did when it started. That’s not to say Sterilize is indistinguishable from Unsane’s 1991 self-titled debut, but there’s no doubt who you’re listening to when the calamitous chords and broken-phone vocals of “Factory” open the band’s eighth full-length. Those who remember the gnarly skate video for “Scrape” that was all over MTV during the mid-’90s will have their memory banks jump-started by the patented, noise-rock churn and driving scuzz of “The Grind” and “We’re Fucked.” The gutter-blues tinges and what amounts to melodic singing on “Lung” and “Distance,” respectively, sprinkle some freshness on Sterilize, but it’s still all about lurching guitars, distorted bass, metronomic ball-peen drumming and the belief that pleasure exists in pain. —Kevin Stewart-Panko