Austin Psych Fest Live (Saturday): Destruction Unit

Arizona triple axe beast recalls Amphetamine Reptile Records

Arizona’s Destruction Unit left no noisy stone unturned during its short APF set. First paint-peeling feedback, then hair-whipping thrash, then a driving pound – and that’s all in the first song. Drums and bass rumble forward like tanks on a NASCAR track: loud, faster than may be safe, but on target.

by John Anderson

Guitarist/majordomo Ryan Rousseau sounds like Ian Curtis’ meth-loving cousin on disc. Live, he’s buried so deeply in the crunge that it’s beside the point. His two six-string pals violated their axes with naked enthusiasm, one furiously deconstructing guitar heroism, the other using his gear more as a sophisticated noisemaker than a musical instrument.

“Slow Death Sounds” calls back to the glory age when the unrepentant noise demons on Amphetamine Reptile Records ruled the underground with a prickly fist, eschewing boring elements like riffs and chords in favor of unabashed amp abuse. “Bumpy Road” brought down the intensity level, but that just made the spanking hurt more. Raging epic “Night Loner” threw the band’s entire vision up against the wall, cracking the plaster and not remotely worried about what might stick.

Chaos battled order here, and order won – thanks to the skill of the rhythm section, but just barely.

Of course, whether or not all the fans who craved this punishment received it is open to question. The set started 20 minutes early, a dangerous precedent at a festival when patrons are trying to plan their schedules to allow maximum coverage. For those of us who were there, we got the beating of our lives.

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