Destruction Unit plays dense, messy, guitar-sludged punk. Its front line— three guitar players—crank out exactly the sort of chaotic dissonance you’d expect of guys shoehorned into a tiny room, slashing and jousting to get across three different takes on exactly how a song should come off. The songs then are always rampaging off the track, barreling at top speed and top volume around corners, through genres, into and out of trouble. So, while Deep Trip’s “World on Drugs” opens with blares and blasts of feedback, three guys tilting at amps to elicit skree and howl, it doesn’t stay there. Instead, it spasms into a punk song, jackhammering double-time, until, abruptly, it slows to a dirge. Noise band, punk band, heavy psych band, space-rockers—Destruction Unit is all those things for at a few seconds in this slo-pbucket of a song.
Ryan Rousseau formed Destruction Unit 10 years ago with Jay Reatard and Alicja Trout. Since then, most of the line-up and sound has changed. Maybe the sole remnant of their beginnings is the gothy, glam-tinged, echo haunted vocals. Rousseau singing drifts over the mayhem– it’s more like Lost Sounds than Jay Reatard. His voice brings a bit of icy, post-punk reserve to what otherwise might have been pure heat, haze and confusion. Listen, when you get a chance, to how he cuts through the sputtering, blow-torch arcs of guitar feedback on “Bumpy Road,” how it rises up and over the way-in-the-front, snare battering, cymbal slashing drumming. These songs overload, piling on blistering layers of noise and distortion until you hardly make out their shape, but the singing works like a guide rope, taking you right through to the end.
Even with that guide, these tracks are nightmarish, bruising layers of sound plunging listeners into confusion, disorientation and a vague threat of danger. You are never able to comprehend everything at once. One guitar sound bleeds into another, and an explosive, inflammatory fog hangs over the entire enterprise. You feel like you’re slipping through minefields, with too much to process, maybe missing the one thing that will blow it all sky high.
Too many records are boring. This one is visceral and scary, which is an improvement.