Sugar's Beaster is actually outtakes from their previous dynamite album, Copper Blue. It comes off as some kind of deranged, ugly sister of that sparking album, a yin to Copper's yang, a violent, angry, and seething wall of aggression with (this time) little concession to Bob Mould's pop prowess. Perhaps the most densely recorded, heavy trip the man has produced since Hüsker Dü's Metal Circus in 1983, Beaster is what you might get if Mould had been in the mood to construct a full album of songs like "Slick"'s insanity instead of "Helpless" and "Changes"'s monster hooks. Not that it doesn't still make for great listening once one gets used to the change in focus. "Feeling Better" could have made Copper, with its hooky base (more so than the others here), and the best song, "Titled," is ferocious, fast, furious, and a total knockout, the most aurally exciting post-Hüsker Dü track yet. Again, David Barbe and Malcolm Travis are such a superior rhythm section to Grant Hart and Greg Norton, Sugar is a better update rather than nostalgic reinvention, and bits of Zen Arcade and Black Sheets of Rain aside, Mould has never come off so twisted and out of his gourd. "Come Around"'s "vocals" are all but demonic, and "Judas Cradle" matches metal pounding with MBV/Sonic Youth brutal tones slashing out of the guitars, which gives way to "JC Auto"'s meld of "The Act We Act"-style pounding into a thundering, insane, heavy chorus. When Bob starts seething "I'm your Jesus Christ, I know, I know, I know," you wonder what exactly inspired these straitjacket fits! Man, that's something. Now, there is one major flaw: all the songs need an editor, as with excessive length they approach overkill from too much repetition. Never mind. This is a pretty killer experience more than a record. Whereas Copper Blue made you want to sing along, Beaster makes you hide under the bed. Can't say they didn't warn you; Beaster is well-titled.
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AllMusic Review by Jack Rabid