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Quicksand Slip Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

A 40-minute master class in post-hardcore perfection, reissued on limited-edition wax.

Alex Deller 2012

Attempt to pick apart the puzzlingly named genre known as post-hardcore and you’ll likely find yourself with a handful of random strands that only loosely tie together. There’ll obviously be DC titans Fugazi and those they helped to nurture (Jawbox, Shudder to Think et al) along with lesser-knowns like Bastro and scads of other odd, awkward, stylistically-different acts all laying claim to the pigeonhole.

If, however, you’re looking for one definitive act that sums it all up then look no further than this: the 1993 debut full-length from Quicksand, rescued from the vaults to celebrate the band’s considerable legacy.

Quicksand began in 1990, members having already set the standard for perky, positive, late-80s hardcore with acts like Gorilla Biscuits, Bold and Youth of Today. Clearly not considering this achievement enough, they then set about altering the 90s underground with an obtuse shift in sound that must have had youth crew fans everywhere shaking their baseball capped heads and wondering just what the connection was.

Slip is a taut mix of staccato crunches, fluttering harmonics, chiming bass notes and Walter Schreifels’ strained, strung-out vocals. The music was as blunt, efficient and businesslike as their song titles (Unfulfilled, Head to Wall, Dine Alone), and sweats pent-up stress, discontent and frustration with a disconcertingly crisp directness. Tunes shift from hoarse melodies and jittery desperation to coruscating crashes, tracks like album standout Omission demonstrating immaculate poise and a white-knuckled grip on their surging dynamics.

While 1995’s follow-up Manic Compression was arguably a better album despite its wonky production, it was this album that truly changed the game with a sound that would soon be plundered by acts like Shift, Understand and Hundred Reasons, while Schreifels attempted a poppified update with his own Rival Schools.

Beyond the 90s and even beyond the early 00s, Quicksand’s influence still refuses to dwindle. Bands like the excellent Æges seem intent on resuscitating the sound wholesale while echoes can be found threading the work of Torche and Deftones. Such nods ensure Slip’s continued relevance as both history lesson and 40-minute master class in post-hardcore perfection.

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