Early on in 2021, Winnipeg noise-rock group Tunic released Exhaling, a compilation that collected one album and several singles and EPs’ worth of material from the past four years—not entirely but close to everything the band had officially released up to that point. Though it all fit on just two sides, Exhaling was an overwhelming amount of material—22 songs of explosive, pummeling post-hardcore that come in short bursts and move with the subtlety of a cannonball. It scratched a particular kind of itch—nasty, brute violence via guitars, bass, drums and shredded vocal cords—and it did so in ample supply.
As rich a meal of grit and gristle as Exhaling is, it served more than anything to whet appetites for Quitter, Tunic’s second full-length album and one of 2021’s most visceral and confrontational rock records. The band’s harshest and heaviest assets are on full display in the two minutes and three seconds of leadoff track “Apprehension,” a song that completes a brief but triumphantly nihilistic journey from ominous, distorted bass thrum to complete, chaotic noisecore freakout. It’s a wonder to witness the kind of lifting it takes to achieve that level of uncompromising, melodic chaos in such a short time.
Quitter is Tunic fine-tuned and calibrated to deliver the most potent listening experience possible—one that leaves no room for wasted space within its scant 21 minutes. The band’s approach is simple; every sound here is created by metallic bass, distorted guitar scratch, body-blow drum bursts and harried vocal barks. The band needs little else, frankly, as they manage to use that sparse template to run the gamut from dissonant, driving noise-rock snarl on the title track to slo-mo churn on “Stuck” and frantic, frayed-edge freakout on “You’re a Bug.” Every variation hits with a different level of impact or intensity, but the end result is still the same: total annihilation.
But then again, annihilation can be pretty fun, particularly in Tunic’s hands. An album this unrelenting and ferocious is meant to be heard from a proper stage, where the bass is loud enough that you can feel it rattling your chest. As venues open up anew and begin to fill with sounds of feedback and sub-bass rumble, Tunic provide natural fodder for getting your body bruised in a joyfully sweaty throng again.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.