The Melvins are prolific, influential, amorphous and frequently inscrutable. Oh, and they’re gods. Their twenty five+ year career has been nothing short of remarkable. Just when you think you’ve got them figured out they redefine themselves completely.
Their most recent incarnation of the band has featured a couple of guys from a band called Big Business – bassist Jared Warren and a second drummer in Coady Willis. And while the idea of two drummers might sound intriguing or even silly, the two drummers pretty much play the same thing so you don’t really notice it, although I’m sure it’s great to see live.
The thing is, their two previous albums with this lineup, 2006’s (A) Senile Animal and 2008’s Nude With Boots, were two of the strongest and most consistent albums in their entire catalogue.
So it was with great anticipation that I got my hands on The Bride Screamed Murder. And wouldn’t you know it – they’ve confounded me again!
The first song, Water Glass, kicks off in fine fashion with a big, rumbling, percussion heavy Melvins signature riff, before heading off on a tangent – a militaristic drum shuffle followed by the kind of cadence call chant you might expect from a drill sergeant and his platoon of GIs. There’s even some ‘lep-right-left’ shenanigans. It’s good fun and very memorable.
Evil New War God is a more straightforward song in the same vein as their last two albums, and a belter to boot, with the percussion switching between clanging and tentative in the verses and thunderous and climactic in the chorus.
There are some other good songs and moments throughout, but they’re not as frequent as on their last two albums, and often only last for half a song before they take off up some blind alley.
There’s plenty of experimentation: the bizarre jazz outro of Hospital Up; the slow, sludged out and thoroughly Melvinised version of The Who’s My Generation; the weird and incongruous snippet of My Sharona at the end of I’ll Finish You Off; and the strangely beautiful spaghetti western meets Star Spangled Banner meets Beatles White Album final track. Let’s face it; no other band in the world could even imagine such a blend.
Melvins completists will probably already have this album, and have become accustomed to forgiving them for their indulgences. Besides, there’s still plenty of meaty riffs scattered throughout, and it’s certainly not the weirdest thing they’ve ever done.
Casual fans will probably be a little too weirded out to embrace this one, especially when it seemed they were becoming less prone to random acts of senseless randomness.
New listeners would be better served starting with (A) Senile Animal, or one of their more mainstream (but still pretty out there) 90s releases like Stoner Witch or Houdini.