Retox - Ugly Animals (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Ugly Animals (2011)

Ipecac / Three One G

Start. Stop. Start. Whrrrr! Whrrrrr! Clang! Stop. Start. Bwwwwr! Stop. Start. Wooorrmphhh! Stop.

There. I just accurately described the album Ugly Animals from Retox, the new band by Justin Pearson. The 13-minute ass-kicking is one mean album, that's for sure. But the knuckle sandwiches come so fast and furious and with such precision that there is pure art in their violence.

While Pearson's most well-known band, the Locust, was one at the forefront of electro-grind noise rock, to apply such convenient tags to his new project would do disservice to the band. Namely, Retox is a much more organic offering than other bands tied to Pearson's strings. Ugly Animals was recorded entirely in analog, and there is nary a synthesized sound in sight.

Unrestrained by the computer's unforgiving perfection, Ugly Animals is Pearson's tightest and wildest release to date. Although the album snaps and thrashes like a wounded raccoon, it's not noise for noise's sake (a charge which could accurately be delivered against some of the group's family of bands). Rather, as the band starts and stops on half a dime, squealing to the left and rumbling to the right, there is almost a dedication to the classic pop format. That's not to say that the music is "nice," although the progression and rapid changes seem to be natural and even rewarding, instead of merely being just-for-fun abrasion.

Indeed, as the songs evolve and shift, the group has mastered the the balancing act of explosive music and listenability. While the band rapidly ascends from a low rumble to red-line shrieking, paying homage to Napalm Death, Black Flag, and a host of other dissidents sailing the way, the music is strangely inviting. Further, at the conclusion of the album, the band has pulled the listener on a journey through different bombast blasts, rather than ceased their pummeling, as with many noise rock outfits.

While listenability isn't something that Pearson probably concerns himself with, Retox is so well-crafted, concise, and loose, that instead of battering the listener, it seems to lend support to shaking bodies. This isn't so much "noise rock" as it is rock that is really noisy...but it still rocks.