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The most consistently innovative heavy band, ever,
This review is from: A Senile Animal (Audio CD)
If Mike Patton is the David Lynch of rock'n'roll, his associate King Buzzo is most assuredly the Chris Morris. Since the late '80s, the Melvins have taken iron-heavy grunge-metal through a multi-levelled nightmare carnival threaded through with an obscure scorn and hostility that's proved to be far scarier than any of the puerile Satan-worshipping nonsense from the heavy rock mainstream (how old and tired is that routine now?...). Melvins songs have always had a hugely eclectic range, from two-minute Motorhead-type war-charge assaults, through 10-minute 'underwater march of doom' Sabbath trudges, 20-minute abstracted-to-hell noise pieces, jokey songs that are more unnerving than funny (check out 'Skin Horse' from their 1996 album "Stag"...hilarious if drunk or stoned, horrifying if on anything stronger), through to some stranger, as-yet-indescribable sound combinations. King Buzzo is as unique a lyricist as Mark E. Smith, though in a very different way; he roars sinister nonsense poems that seem to link almost back to Edward Lear.
Which over-excited introduction neatly brings me to this latest and perhaps greatest Melvins album, released late last year. A couple of releases immediately previous had seen the band becoming increasingly intricate, knotty and progged-out-complex in their arrangements; this sees a (sort of) back-to-basics approach to full-on steamroller rock, though even here they've done it their way - they've only gone and incorporated an entire other band (Big Business, who recently put out a really cool, if inevitably Melvinsesque album called "Here Come The Waterworks" - pick it up) as an extra rhythm section!! Hence the entire album is replete with drum solos and dual harmony vocals - two things I've never had much time for, but the Melvins have fashioned something spectacular out of them.
So, we got the off-time judder-crunches of 'Blood Witch' and the grim epic 'The Mechanical Bride'. We got 'Civilised Worm', lazily unfolding from a languid and teasingly Nirvana-like melody into a double-drummed climax that sounds like an entire city being systematically levelled. 'The Talking Horse' could give the mighty Mastodon a run for their super-rocking bucks. Imagine KISS dipped in molten tar...then imagine that KISS were ever any good.
I think, however, that the highlights are the explosively pissed-off 'Rat-Faced Granny', which seamlessly shifts gears into an almost entirely different song as it progresses, and the lurching onward march and guttural, mocking vocals (think Zappa after inhaling exhaust) of 'A History Of Bad Men' - possibly the catchiest melody of '06 set to the same year's most pounding backing.