What is there left to say about Quicksand that hasn’t already been said? Their 1993 debut Slip is frequently considered a formative staple in post-hardcore, as well as being the year zero for so many other bands who have since proven hugely influential in their own right. Even if Quicksand haven’t released material in over two decades, their legacy continues to blossom and flourish; Walter Schreifels has put his name to countless other bands and projects in the following years (the best of which probably being Rival Schools), and Sergio Vega has been rather preoccupied with his now-permanent role as bassist in some little band called Deftones. It’s what makes the recorded return of Quicksand such a draw; the handful of reunion shows over the last few years were one thing, but to see them come out with their first lot of material since 1995, and with so little fanfare or buildup at that, is something else entirely.
The good news is that Interiors feels more like a product of genuine creative intent than half of the overdue comeback albums that have surfaced over the past few years, but as is to be largely expected, this isn’t Quicksand hitting the bar again that they set for themselves with Slip. It’s not a total failure either, mind, falling in the liminal space between heady atmosphere and intensity, brushing against both but not truly delving too deeply into either. More than anything, Interiors doesn’t feel like an album to come from an almost quarter-of-a-century gap, but it’s definitely the result of an older band with that being a palpable factor.
What that comes down to a noticeable slowdown, but one that Quicksand try to mitigate to the best of their abilities. The biggest factor comes in Vega’s bass tone, rumbling through the back to give tracks like Illuminant and the title track a tremendous sense of heft and, at times, dread. On a compositional level, Interiors barely misses a beat in terms of a tar-thick sound, even if it does feel as though it could afford to push itself a bit further at points. As previously mentioned, Interiors predominantly rests in the middle ground of numerous outcomes, which can lead to the likes of Sick Mind lacking a sense of real drive to go further or build on what is essentially a foundation put to record and masquerading as a finished product. It flows well, and in terms of what this band can convincingly do, tracks like Warm And Low and Hyperion capture something by way of a fuller atmosphere, but where Interiors could really do with some improvement is in making that a consistent factor.
Even so, Quicksand manage to strike a formula here that’s frequently worked in the past, not just for themselves but for plenty of others, and even if they don’t take to it as emphatically, it’s worth appreciating what’s actually done here regardless. Under The Screw becomes a bit louder and more discordant for some added punch, and the blissed-out soundscape of Cosmonauts sees the current cross-pollination with Deftones come full circle. Even with Schreifels’ vocals, which mightn’t sound the strongest they ever have, there’s greater room for his aged, more weathered style to fit in with instrumentation that largely sounds the same than on his return to punk with Vanishing Life last year. If nothing else, Quicksand are in an area that they’re comfortable being in on this album.
But there’s a limit with how well that can work with tipping into complacency. Interiors doesn’t feel that way, but there are moments that come perilously close, even if there’s an instrumental turn of phrase or particularly that bass tone that often pulls them away. More than anything, Interiors is something of a transitional album, one that has Quicksand on the cusp of regaining their balance after such a long period of time away but not quite hitting it yet. The combination of artists with such storied legacies and catalogues wouldn’t have resulted in a disaster by any means, but even though this is still pretty good, something that offers a little more wouldn’t be out of the question.
For fans of: Rival Schools, Deftones, Texas Is The Reason
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Interiors’ by Quicksand is out now on Epitaph Records.