Kill the Bullshit World, Happy Birthday to Beneath California by Retox, 2/10/15

The world in which we live is a bullshit world and because we live in a bullshit world we must search without pause for things that are not bullshit. There is a certain growing insubstantiality to life on our planet as we continue to hide ourselves behind screens, seek technological pleasure, and hunt for new plastic sensations to numb our senses. Some of this is of course thanks to the pandemic, but much of it is a byproduct of the inexorable march of progress. If progress means feeling fewer things, engaging less often, and time spent in artificial interactions, I want to opt out. Hit the big red No button. Unplug from the fucking grid. Tell the motherfuckers where they can go.

Retox is a band that does not jibe well with the bullshit world. Their live shows were (and their records are) moments of spontaneous combustion–feeling, purgative violence, true life.

Beneath California, released six years ago today, is the band’s finest (and final) statement to the world. Justin Pearson (The Locust, Deaf Club, Planet B), Mike Crain (Festival of Dead Deer, Dead Cross), Brian Evans, and Keith Hendriksen (Kill the Capulets, Virginia Reed) give us something relentless, heavy, lyrically vital, a collection of intense, visceral songs that
will make you feel and think. Tracks like “Die in Your Own Cathedral,” “The Savior, the Swear Word,” and “Strong Wrong Opinion” are axes that cleave the skull of the bullshit world. This is hardcore but renewed, given fresh blood, driven to wild heights. None of this sounds like what came before.

My favorite track on the record is “This Should Hurt a Little Bit,” a heavy, driving, steamroller that’s catchy enough for pop-radio were pop-radio not part of the bullshit world. It is a menacing, freeing song, and a sort of anthem for a lot of us, myself included. Play it loud. Kill the bullshit world. Feel something.

Adam Gnade, author of the books Locust House, This is the End of Something But It’s Not the End of You, and Float Me Away, Floodwaters.