Available languages: EnglishThe Melvins weren't the first band to acknowledge the heavy metal influences that most left-of-center bands had been trying to shake off since punk rock broke in 1977 (that honor would go to Black Flag on their polarizing 1984 album My War). But no other band to emerge from the punk/alternative underground would mine Black Sabbath's slow, monolithic roar with greater effect than the Melvins, and they would prove to be wildly influential despite barely breaking out of cult status. The drop-D tunings and brontosaurus stomp of grunge icons such as Tad, Mudhoney, and Soundgarden would be unthinkable without the trails the Melvins blazed, and Kurt Cobain often sang their praises, helping them land their first major-label recording deal in 1993. They became a bridge between the edges of the punk and metal communities, who would find greater common ground from the '90s onward. (Their debut EP, 1986's 6 Songs, found them wavering between speedier punk-oriented numbers and full-on heaviness, but by 1991's Bullhead, the Melvins' trademark gargantuan sound was firmly in place.) And while the Melvins were as recognizable as any band of their day, they also proved to be more creatively flexible than nearly all their peers, willing to experiment with different styles (the massive suite on 1992's Melvins [aka Lysol], the ambitious studio experimentation of 1996's Stag, the noisy soundscapes in 2017's A Walk with Love and Death) and a variety of musical configurations (bringing in multiple guest vocalists on 2000's The Crybaby, using two drummers on 2006's A Senile Animal, working with a rotating team of bassists on 2016's Basses Loaded, recording with two bassists at once on 2018's Pinkus Abortion Technician, and recording an epic-scale acoustic set for 2021's Five Legged Dog), all of which helped the band remain productive and prolific more than three decades after they launched. The band formed in Aberdeen, Washington, the same town that produced Nirvana's Cobain and Krist Novoselic. For Nirvana and many other Seattle-area bands, the Melvins' sludge was inspirational; the younger bands took the Sabbath-styled heaviness of the Melvins and added an equally important pop song structure, which the group tended to lack. While all of their disciples became famous after Nirvana broke big in 1991 (including Mudhoney, which featured former Melvins bassist Matt Lukin), the Melvins only expanded their cult slightly. They did earn a major-label contract with Atlantic, but after releasing three records for the label, they were dropped in late 1996 and the group returned to indie status, landing with Amphetamine Reptile for 1998's Alive at the F*cker Club. The late '90s and early 2000s saw a flurry of releases by the band: The Maggot, The Bootlicker, The Crybaby, Electroretard, The Colossus of Destiny, Hostile Ambient Takeover, Pigs of the Roman Empire, and Houdini Live 2005: A Live History of Gluttony and Lust, all of which (except for the fourth one) were issued on Mike Patton's Ipecac label. In addition to their Melvins activities, singer/guitarist Buzz Osborne joined Patton (and former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn) for the experimental outfit Fantômas, resulting in a number of releases (1999's self-titled debut, 2001's The Director's Cut, 2002's Millennium Monsterwork by "the Fantômas Melvins Big Band" (recorded live in San Francisco on New Year's Eve 2000 but not released until two years later), 2004's Delirium Cordia, and 2005's Suspended Animation), while the Melvins' latest bassist, Kevin Rutmanis, joined Patton in another side project, Tomahawk. In 2006, Big Business bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis joined the Melvins, appearing on that year's Senile Animal album. The follow-ups, 2008's Nude with Boots, 2010's The Bride Screamed Murder, and a live album titled Sugar Daddy Live, were recorded with the same lineup and released by Ipecac. The band returned in 2012 with a stripped-down lineup, dubbed Melvins Lite, for Freak Puke, which found Crover and Osborne recording without the boys from Big Business and instead adding standup bassist Dunn to their roster to round out the band's already formidable bottom-end sound. Mixing things up even further, the band invited a host of guests, including the likes of Jello Biafra and J.G. Thirlwell, for Everybody Loves Sausages, an album of covers that arrived in 2013. Another new album, Tres Cabrones, released in November of that same year, saw them reunited with original drummer Mike Dillard -- who had previously appeared only on their early demo tapes -- while usual drummer Dale Crover took over on bass duties. Another odd combination occurred in 2014, as Crover and Osborne joined the Butthole Surfers' Jeff "J.D." Pinkus and Paul Leary on the eclectic Hold It In. Two unusual releases from the Melvins arrived in 2016. An album the group began recording in 1999 with Mike Kunka of Godheadsilo was finally completed and released as Three Men and a Baby, credited to Mike & the Melvins. And in the middle of 2016 they issued Basses Loaded, where the group recruited a handful of favorite bass players to collaborate on songs. The guest artists included Krist Novoselic of Nirvana, Steve McDonald of Redd Kross and OFF!, J.D. Pinkus, Trevor Dunn, and Jared Warren. One of the few things the Melvins hadn't done was release a double album, but they were finally able to cross that off their list in 2017 with A Walk with Love and Death. The 23-track release included material written and recorded as the score to a film by Jesse Nieminen. In 2018, the Melvins broke ground with a lineup featuring two bassists on the album Pinkus Abortion Technician. The sessions found J.D. Pinkus (returning from his previous appearances on Hold It In and Basses Loaded) handling the bottom end along with Steve McDonald (also heard on Basses Loaded), while King Buzzo and Dale Crover took their usual places on guitar and drums. The band reunited several times with first drummer Dillard, releasing several EP-length or stand-alone recordings under the sub-moniker Melvins 1983. In 2021, this formation of the band released a full-length titled Working with God. With touring off the table during the COVID-19 pandemic, the hard-working Melvins played a series of live streamed concerts under the banner Melvins TV, and set to work on an unusual project. Five Legged Dog, released in October 2021 and featuring the Osborne/ Crover/McDonald lineup, was the group's first all-acoustic album, running nearly two-and-a-half hours, and featuring new interpretations of songs spanning their recording career, as well as covers of songs that influenced them.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 26 februari 2021 | Ipecac Recordings
As the years turned into decades, grunge forecasters the Melvins became more and more mercurial in their overall concept of where the band began and ended. Prolifically released albums took the form of wild collaborations with outside guests or lineup switches denoted by variations to their name, like "Melvins Lite" or "Los Melvins." Los Melvins were an incarnation including founding Melvin King Buzzo, longtime mainstay Dale Crover, and original drummer Mike Dillard. Working with God reunites this lineup (also sometimes referred to as "Melvins 1983" due to Dillard and Buzzo's 1983 formation of the band) for an album that includes returns to the band's early, sludgy power as well as some of the goofy juvenilia and lighthearted freakery of their 2010s output. Goofiness kicks things off as the album starts with a foul-mouthed parody of the Beach Boys' oldie "I Get Around," rewritten as "I Fuck Around." Despite the Melvins replacing the original lyrics with F-bombs whenever remotely possible, it's a pretty faithful cover, complete with better-than-expected falsetto background vocals. There are more acid-damaged moments of weirdness, like the demented introduction to "Brian, The Horse-Faced Goon," and the hard rock guitar antics on speedy songs like "Hund" and "Bouncing Rick." The best moments on Working with God are the ones where the Melvins lean into the syrupy, nauseous, downtuned proto-grunge they perfected on albums like Ozma and Bullhead. The slow tempos and simmering tension on tracks like "Caddy Daddy" and the lurking dread on "The Great Good Place" are classic throwback Melvins, but the album is padded out with riled-up outbursts like "Fuck You" and the truly bizarre choice to end with an a cappella cover of the barbershop quartet standard "Goodnight Sweet-Heart." As they approach 40 years of existence, the Melvins are still the masters of their own depraved domain. On Working with God, they flippantly experiment with ridiculous ideas only to effortlessly lay down some songs as heavy as the ones they were making before Nirvana left Sub Pop. With nothing to prove and never having seemed too concerned about impressing anyone, the Melvins continue to take their wild-eyed chaos anywhere they choose -- Working with God goes to some places that are strange and unforeseen even for them. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
Rock - Verschenen op 15 oktober 2021 | Ipecac Recordings
One of the reasons the Melvins remain vital and productive as they approach 40 years as a band is they've never been afraid to try new things and give themselves fresh challenges. However, after a certain point, one begins to run short on new things to try, and their desire to push themselves out of their comfort zone sometimes takes them down blind alleys. This is the case with 2021's Five Legged Dog, which marks the first time the band, known for their crushing volume and downtuned heaviness, has recorded a full-length acoustic album. Perhaps thinking that wasn't novel enough in itself, they have has also made it an epic-scale career overview, featuring new interpretations of tunes from their catalog, as well as a handful of covers, in a marathon production that clocks in at two-and-a-half hours. For a group that's traded so heavily in volume throughout their career, Five Legged Dog finds the Melvins sounding game and committed to this experiment, and guitarist Buzz Osborne, bassist Steven McDonald, and drummer Dale Crover seem especially happy to try out vocal harmonies that would normally get lost over the sound of the overdriven amps and piledriver percussion. The details of McDonald's basslines and Crover's drumming are naturally a lot more clear in this context, and their playing reveals a welcome nuance, showing off sides of their music that they can't normally put into focus. However, while Osborne is a talented guitarist, he's not as interesting on acoustic player as he is on electric, and the textures and dynamics that are second nature in his usual performances are absent here. The simpler, low-volume arrangements also make it pretty clear that these songs were never meant to be heard in this fashion, and they haven't been able to recast them in an acoustic form that gives them force enough to compensate for the lack of volume and punch. The final nail in Five Legged Dog's coffin is its length: 35 or 40 minutes of this music might work as an experiment, but 150 minutes is numbing, especially given the lack of straightforward melodic hooks in the Melvins' songbook. The covers of numbers like the Turtles' "Outside Chance," the Rolling Stones' "Sway," and Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talking" end up being standouts because their relative simplicity, melodicism, and concision are reinforced by the acoustic trio treatment, while the sprawl of the Melvins originals only muddies the waters performed in this format. It's honestly admirable that the Melvins were willing to take a big risk with an album like Five Legged Dog, but the finished product fails more than it succeeds. © Mark Deming /TiVo