The bleak blasted soundscape revealed by Destruction Unit has its elusive wonder, even if any beauty gets consumed within the foundry of its unrelenting fiery furnace.
Ryan Rousseau leads Destruction Unit’s assault from the Sonoran Desert in Arizona–so it’s a dry heat. With its metallic punk and space-rock, the band is like Hawkwind meets Motorhead, bridging the gap not with a singular vocalists like Lemmy but a similarly thrashing style: Distortion, volume, pedals. After a few years of indie singles and a modest album, the 2013 full-length Void tightened up the sonic attack as Rousseau, formerly of Reatards, corralled a lineup able to harness his assault. The following year’s Deep Trip plunged into a maelstrom, harsh and disorienting. And like their previous two records, the 2015 release Negative Feedback Resistor (2015) sounds like its title.
“Disinfect” conveys the sound of shattered wrecks in silent space. Not a vacuum, but the fragmented shards of rock music capture bits of evaporating guitar and faint keyboards. Then, it launches into a full-frontal thrust, a pattern that dominates the tracks on the album from start to finish.
“Proper Decay” and “Salvation” leave structure behind, imploding as a black hole of doom. Destruction Unit abandons the restraint of their earlier discography, loud as that registered. “Chemical Reaction/Chemical Delight” pauses halfway, but only to groan, moan, and sigh.
By this time, the Brooklyn label Sacred Bones’ stablemates The Men and Disappears had stepped back from their noisy beginnings and drifted towards tamer post-punk or revivalist ‘70s boogie rock. Commendably, this signing from the Grand Canyon State rides off the cliff of safety into the insane pitch of this studio vehicle, tipped down towards the infernal roar.
“Animal Instinct” enables the listener to appreciate the rest of the band. Rusty Rousseau’s bass thunders over the veteran guitar duo of Jes Aurelius and Nick Nappa. Ryan Rousseau’s third guitar creates a massive amplified machine, full of fury and despair. Andrew Flores pounds away on percussion, with intelligent beats and a smart sense of control. This song comes closer to the group’s volcanic live sound. A concert recording, one hopes, will follow.
“Judgment Day” hints at country music. But it soon shifts into overdrive. Previous records allowed breathing room within the steel foundry. Negative Feedback Resister sucks up air.
Liner notes pay tribute to scruffy hippie-outlaw forebears and tease the swaggering pose. “This is crazed-psychedelic-freek-noise guerilla [sic] warfare and these are our streets; the pigs of the law can use their system to manipulate and censor our messages…but none of them has been able to make us shut our voices or turn our guitar amps down.” Perhaps, but five years later, no further releases have emanated from the Western wild. Maybe a cautionary tale, given their more plausible rhetorical plaint: “Destruction Unit sacrificed their ears to make this album as loud of a statement as possible. Will you lend them yours?
Those curious about the band should start with the two albums that precede this one. With so much intensity, it may smother those lacking the stamina to commit to a punishing desert hike. However, the bleak blasted soundscape revealed by Destruction Unit has its elusive wonder, even if any beauty gets consumed within the foundry of its unrelenting fiery furnace.