J. Burns wrote:
Schadenfreude wrote:I'll say "not crap", but they surely did run that drop-d formula into the ground. Unsane did it better.
Agreed. A lot of people think that Unsane have made the same record for 15 years. Which is wrong, but even if it was true, at least it would be a decent record.
discography might have taken risks, but it's all borderline-unlistenable bullshit.
I can totally see why you made that comparison but, having witnessed numerous early gigs by both, they were almost like on the exact opposite ends of the same musical spectrum.
I don't think Unsane played in drop-D, at least not for the first few records. Plus Unsane's musicianship was pretty lacking early on. By comparison, Helmet was tidy, riff-based, bass-heavy, professional, tight. Shiny equipment and dressed like a Gap Kids ad. "Military rock," a friend of mine used to call them. They looked really suburban and clean-cut.
Unsane was this sloppy, supertrebly thing w/fuzz bass, cranky single-string leads on a Telecaster, and tom tom-driven drumming. More spastic and vicious than controlled and heavy. Pete Shore worked as a cabbie or something, and there was definitely this (somewhat contrived) kind of NYC-sewer-meets-NRA-militia look going on. They made a point of referencing things like Taxi Driver and the old sex-and-violence Times Square grindhouse scene (even though the members attended a prestigious women's college; not a joke).
Helmet had those riffs, but they were also sort of anal retentive and overly disciplined. What Unsane lacked in technical skills, they made up for w/a ridiculously reckless sound and a much cooler attitude. They were loose and crazy and had more in common w/Pussy Galore than w/any kind of metal band in those days. A lot of broken strings onstage. Helmet was really streamlined by comparison, but also slightly soulless.
It's funny b/c I have the same kind of affection for both and they both lost me around the same time: Helmet's early singles and first two albums; Unsane's early singles, the unreleased test pressing version of the first album (Improvised Munitions), and then the proper first album for Matador. The rest is all sort of blah aggro-rock for me. Unsane cleaned up and got formulaic. Helmet started getting deep into funk, Hawaii, and even glossier Paul Reed Smith alterna-metal.
I remember when Betty came out. I had such trouble separating all the "experimental" and funk stuff from the steak. It seemed really weighted-down and disappointing compared to what came before. Maybe I should re-examine?