Southern California band Retox has triggered an enthused excitement in the three months, as short and as blistering as their songs, since their live debut. The fact that a couple of the band also grace The Locust was an intriguing invite to check out the band, but it is their incisive and senses testing sound that has made them the talk of the summer within and beyond hardcore and punk circles. Their lightening strikes of aggressive, middle finger defiance lead them to sign with Ipecac and the release on August 23rd on Three One G/ Ipecac Recordings of their debut album “Ugly Animals”.
Retox consists of Justin Pearson (The Locust, All Leather, Some Girls, Swing Kids), Gabe Serbian (The Locust, Cattle Decapitation, Holy Molar, Rats Eyes), Michael Crain (Festival of Dead Deer), and Thor Dickey, and blasts the ear through eleven paint stripping tracks, accumulating into a mere thirteen minutes of internal intrusive satisfaction. If nothing else from frontman Pearson and drummer Serbian’s other claim to fame, Retox retain the disregard for fattening up songs with extra time and unnecessary frills. This is stylish direct post hardcore/ hardcore punk at its best, contradictory, determined and completely essential.
“Ugly Animals” and Retox are a musical reaction to and an expression of dissatisfaction for modern times, its stagnation and apathetic regard for all ills that fly freely worldwide. The beauty and power of Retox is they do not stand and pummel with lectures but simply state their views wrapped inside explosive and intriguing furious ear candy, well candy if discordant, abrasive, razor sharp riffs and scything guitar bursts feeds your sweet tooth.
From the opening track ‘The World Is Ending And It’s About Time’, straight through a mere few deep breaths worth of time to the closing brilliance of ‘Piss Elegant’, the album is an exciting and wonderful incessant attack, like a giant angry hornet found in those old 50’s sci-fi films, it is relentless and persistent, it does not frighten but it is never out of the face or ear.
One can imagine the shortness of the songs will be a hurdle for some, as soon as an understanding of the song is found, it ends, so if you do not click with it right away it can just evade the focus the songs deserve, though repeat plays is a perfect answer to that.
The album, even in its brevity, is full of stirring riffs and eventful hooks and guitar strikes, there is a live feel to it as if the band just entered the studio and erupted as one for each track. The sound recalls bands like obviously The Locust in a stripped down primal way, Blood Brothers and Dead Kennedys, especially in the best track on parade ‘30 Cents Shy Of A Quarter’. The song is the most accessible almost carrying a ‘pop’ touch, the probing riffs and punk thrust, make it an easy play on the ear compared to other tracks, and carrying very Dead Kennedys riffage, which can never be a bad thing.
Tracks like the complete joy of ‘Ten Pounds Of Shit In A Five Pound Bag’, ‘A Funeral On Christmas Day’, and ‘Sorry We Are Just Not Compatible’ with a distinct Down I Go feel, all show that Retox will be shaking down much more than just ears in the future. Even in it briefness “Ugly Animals“ is a refreshing and important release, whether people will take it to their musical hearts time will tell, but its challenging, acerbic songs and tones are certainly deserving of everyone’s time and attention.