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Review: Destruction Unit ‘Negative Feedback Resistor’

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On the surface you may think Arizona quintet Destruction Unit is just a noise punk group trying to dish out aggressive riffs along with Drunkdriver noise-core clamor, but when you listen to their tracks, you find yourself listening to one of the most inventive bands in the scene.

What started as the solo project of the erstwhile Reatard (the group of the late garage pop great Jay Reatard) Ryan Rousseau, became the five piece noisemakers that deliver a sludgy brand of noise punk anointed with psychedelic ambition, here with Negative Feedback Resistor, their third studio album as a full band (the eighth record under the Destruction Unit moniker for Rousseau) their sound is as incendiary and zonked out as ever.

Their music showcases an unbridled energy that translates into their ferocious playing but the blurred lines within each song negate the formulaic structuring expected from a punk song, unexpected progressions and veritable walls of noise (three guitars can make quite a racket) feel more like stoned desert rock than simple mosh pit fodder.

The eight tracks on NFR are certainly mosh pit worthy, but with the majority of the tracks clocking in over six minutes, the fact they maintain their energy in long form without fizzling out shows psychedelic fueled endurance, when a band plays this fast and hard in the same amount of time as it took Pink Floyd to make their short songs is truly impressive. Even the tracks under three minutes can be as much fun as the longer ones, the consistency is irreproachable.

Though NFR can definitely blow your speakers with it’s power, here is a modicum of quiet or dead air on this record but in the ephemeral moments there is a quiet before the storm, it’s absolutely chilling. The eerie static in the opening track “Disinfect” is terrifying but when the song kicks in the power in each chord and snare hit makes you want to move.

A star out of the group has to be the wunderkind drummer Andrew Flores, each tune has explosive percussion played with white knuckled fury and well syncopated fills thrown in rather than four minutes of Oompa Loompa beats. Speaking of What We Do is Secret references, a guest appearance of Germs drummer Don Bolles giving one mean, amelodic solo on “Proper Decay” was a real treat, the influences of the seminal LA group is clear in their sound but the fact they got Bolles for the record is as exciting as getting a Germs burn (it may look cool but don’t do it.)

It would be foolish to deny the hypnotizing power of Rousseau’s vocals, even drowned in reverb and ostensibly recorded on an acetate for the most lo-fi outcome, moreover, he can chill your bones with his sneer regardless of what effect is trying to take control.

A crux of the record has to be the centerpiece track “Chemical Reaction / Chemical Delight”, a sprawling nine minute burner where you see Rousseau’s voice transmute from a sonorous bellow to a snotty howl a la Darby Crash, this song feels like five songs commingled into a hyperkinetic monster of a tune which makes it so fun, wherever it goes, you follow in suit.

Each song is like an acid tinged reverie, precarious journeys through unforgiving sands of cacophony, if you don’t like noise in your rock then this may not be the record for you, but if it is sweet dissonance that beckons your ears, you’re in the right place. The triple guitar power of the penultimate “If Death Ever Slept” is tough as nails but menacing under all the distortion, which can be said about nearly all the tracks on NFR but here it sounds the best in terms of sheer aggression.

The album closer “The Upper Hand” feels like a summation of all the albums finer points, sweeping stabs of feedback in the periphery, jammy mid-tempo catapulted into rapid fire three chord decimation and Rousseau’s vocals that feel aloof and longing.

There isn’t a whole lot of variation through the records in terms of theme, but each instrumental is nuanced and fresh, never mired in a simple let’s-make-loud-riffs-and-see-what-happens ethos. Each song has an ornate structure that shows the painstaking craftiness Rousseau is known for,

And with this band redefining what it means to be loud, we will find many new Destruction Unit fans regardless of their background, punks or acid-heads, they will all surrender themselves to the best noise around.

4.5/5

Kieran J. MacIntyre is a voracious music nerd of all genres, bass player and the music editor for M&C Music.

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