Retox - Ugly Animals
2011, Three One G
Released in 2011, this puppy slipped right past me while I was busy looking at funny pictures on the internet of cats with hats and rabits with pancakes on their heads or something equally retarded and listening to something completely different and -more than likely- not even remotely as fucking amazing as Retox's full length debut Ugly Animals. When I realised that the band featured people from among others grindcore weirdos The Locust it became obvious to me that this was going to be a wild ride indeed. One that would leave welts and burn blisters all over.
Ugly Animals is made up of eleven songs of intensely jarring music; like a sonic equivalent of something straight out of a crazy person's paranoia-fuelled, horrifying fantasy world. The album is like an epinephrine shot mainlined straight into an artery of a coding heart patient, only with sound (i.e it wakes you the fuck up). These guys have noisy, highly structured hardcore chaos down to a goddamn science. I hear lots of influences at work here, but none of them ever get the better of these guys' writing skills; what they grew up listening to is integrated into the songs, but always tempered with a personal touch and a rock solid sense of direction and emotion.
Right off the bat it's obvious these guys don't give a shit about pleasing any sort of mainstream aesthetic. They're not at all interested in conforming to any sort of artistic norm, nor do they care one jot about trying to restrain even for a moment the most unhinged side to their music. It's like when author William Gibson says he often tries to put off any casual reader of any of his books during the first few pages, making them incredibly dense and self-referential, almost unreadable, to weed out the assholes who do not deserve to read his books. After those few handful of pages of literary murkiness and convoluted phrasings it's usually smooth sailing. Only here, with these guys, it never really gets any easier as time goes by. That doesn't mean, though, that there aren't top notch punk rock hits aplenty in this shrapnel tornado of an album. After the bruising opening with The World Is Ending And It's About Time, we get the completely fucking amazing Thirty Cents Shy Of A Quarter, which brings to mind bands like Unsane, Black Flag and Every Time I Die with it's aural pummeling and even some Dead Kennedys in the jangly oddball surf melodies towards the end. In fact, I hear alot of DK's in Retox's music but I also hear tons of Nomeansno, Pig Destroyer and more Black Flag. But it's all tossed into an extremely effective mix where the same riff or theme are rarely, if ever, repeated for more than a few bars, which gives an explosively schizophrenic character to the songs. It's something I often find in the work of Scott Hull (Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Pig Destroyer) and something that often just turns everything into a blur of sounds that quickly loses any coherence and meaning. But Retox manages to steer clear of that particular musical IED and even though everything is chaotic and unhinged and an impossible hardcore gumbo soup of screamo, grindcore, noise rock, punk rock, black metal and whatever else takes their fancy, Retox manages to almost always keep their feet right on the razor sharp edge of the meat cleaver they're balancing on. Fucking impressive if you ask me.