[13 December 2013]
Your boss screams at you at the morning staff meeting. Your boyfriend or girlfriend dumps you, by text. Your lunch is stolen from the office fridge, your car gets booted and then you step into a big pile of crap left on the lawn by your neighbor’s always-barking pit bull.
Ever have a day like that? Then have I got the album for you: Oozing Wound’s Retrash.
The blistering songs on Retrash deliver a giant upraised middle finger to all the jerks, tools, dolts and dullards who seem to run the world. This is nasty, punk-fueled heavy metal – a riot of sinister guitar riffs, machine-gun rhythms and screamed vocals. Oozing Wound is a Chicago trio that features singer-guitarist Zack Weil, bassist Kevin Cribbin and drummer Kyle Reynolds. All are veterans of the Chicago music landscape, having played in bands like Cacaw and Bad Drugs. But based on what I hear on this album, which is the band’s debut full-length, Oozing Wound is the project these three guys were made for.
Retrash opens with a song that couldn’t announce the band’s intentions any more clearly: “Everyone I Hate Should Be Killed”. A squall of feedback gets things going, and then we’re off to the thrashing, head-banging races. The guitars snarl and spit. The drums sound like the spray from an AK-47. The bass keeps everything hurtling forward at warp speed. All of this, plus Weil’s vocal shrieks, in a concise and brutal three minutes.
Oozing Wound works within longer, more complex song structures, too. “New York Bands”, a six-and-a-half-minute screed against East Coast jagoffness, begins as yet another slice of classic thrash, but at roughly the halfway point, the tempo lets up and we get a squealing, feedback-laden guitar solo that’s both awesome and off-putting. The song then kicks into a high-velocity three-way duel between Weil’s guitar riffs, Reynolds’ pounding drums and Cribbin’s propulsive bass. The band follows that up with “Call Your Guy”, which rides a Sabbath-like riff at first, leaps into a furious thrash groove and then pulls off the throttle just a tiny bit for its old-school fade out. Weil, Cribbin and Reynolds handle these shifts without sacrificing one iota of energy or momentum.
Deciphering the band’s lyrics can be tough because Weil’s piercing screams make the words all but unintelligible. Could a lot of it amount to little more than adolescent snottiness? Possibly. But the band clearly has a sense of humor and, if you believe the press notes, an offbeat approach to lyric subjects. The song “Welcome to the Spaceship, Motherfucker”, for example, reportedly has Weil conversing with Mary – you know, the Mary from the Bible. (I’ll have to take the publicist’s word for that.) What does comes through in Weil’s vocals is a furious, sneering anger, and that’s probably all we really need to understand.
Retrash is a relatively short album, with seven songs that fly by in just a little more than a half-hour. That length feels just about right. If there were three or four more songs here, the album might have overstayed its welcome. As it is, Retrash is a bracing and exhilarating blast of monster guitar riffs and enough speed and aggression to make the geezers in Metallica jealous. Give this album a spin whenever the world’s A-holes get you down. It won’t make them disappear, but it will make dealing with them a lot more fun.