Really, all I should do for this review is to point you to a recent quote from Oozing Wound’s lead screaming and shredder Zack Weil. Asked what the band’s philosophy was, his simple and direct response was: “to slay”.
That should give you (if the Chicago trio’s name didn’t give it away already) some idea of what to expect from the heaviest band signed to Thrill Jockey; Retrash is the unfussiest of records, stripped down to four main elements of screaming, riffs, a barrage of drums and plenty of feedback. Where a band like label mates Liturgy (as much as I like their music) add elements of studied cool to this genre, Oozing Wound are thrash metal as it should be – three guys, fifteen years old at heart, screaming about things they hate and playing as if their lives depended on it…and having a hell of a lot of fun at the same time. This isn’t a band that takes itself particularly seriously (take note, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix) yet fully believes in the power of their songs, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a record with more passion released this year.
There’s almost something deeply uncool or unfashionable about Oozing Wound (along with Weil, the band are Kevin Cribbin on bass/hair and Kyle Reynolds on drums/hair) and Retrash; I’ve not listened to a record like this in years – never mind the band being fifteen at heart, I’m taken back to that age and hearing Slayer, Metallica and other thrash/hardcore acts, bands that had similar crossover appeal to Oozing Wound…but that was a good few years ago, and I don’t hear much else like it at the moment. And that’s what’s refreshing – this is music unaffected both by the passage of time and passing of trends, and much better for it too.
Retrash might only be seven tracks and thirty-odd minutes long, but it’s got plenty of balls and plenty of fun packed into its running time. Songs range from the short and punchy to extended riff assaults, but the quality never varies: opening with the direct punch to the face of ‘Everyone I Hate Should Be Killed’, the first Oozing Wound we encounter is the straight-to-the-point one, no messing about, no context. The song is purely about killing someone you hate, okay? That’s followed by the sludgy side of the band, grinding out the extended diatribe of ‘New York Bands’; a humour-laden assault on folks who move to NYC purely to make it big, it’s also one of the best moments on the record and at close to seven minutes, isn’t nearly long enough. ‘Call Your Guy’ is similar in tone, but laying on the feedback even thicker before killer riffs and drums batter into the mix in a song about a set-to between drug dealer and buyer. You can’t help but raise a chuckle when Weil screams “Can’t squeeze the blood from a stoner/But I try every time”. Winner of the song title of the year for 2013, ‘Welcome to the Spaceship, Motherfucker’ is heads-down no nonsense thrash, as is the look inside John Rambo’s mind on ‘Sustained by Hatred (Rambo 4)’ and closing track ‘Spirit Manimal’ sticks to Oozing Wounds’ no-chorus modus operandi, and focuses solely on “loud fucking guitars and screaming and shit”.
Uncomplicated, doing precisely what it says on the tin, Retrash might not be an album of the year contender or a game-changer; but for pure unadulterated fun Oozing Wound are pretty hard to beat.