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The Melvins Change, the Melvins Stay the Same
To divert disapproval of the upcoming Melvins Lite release, Buzz Osborne and co. have released a free five-song EP called The Bulls and the Bees. It features singer/guitarist Osborne and drummer Dale Crover with relative newcomers and Big Business-men Jared Warren (bass) and Coady Willis (also on drums). Melvins Lite will replace those two with former bassist Trevor Dunn on an album to be released later this year. In the meantime, there is plenty to appreciate in this too-brief collection of songs.
The beauty of The Melvins is that for over a quarter-century—Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, are you paying attention?—they have churned out gut-wrenching, mind-melting, bowel-breaking sludge rock. Largely responsible for creating that genre, and influencing the entire grunge movement as well as so much of today’s metal, The Melvins rarely adjust their formula. Bulls features some experimental, jamming, and droning moments, like the song “A Really Long Wait” or the end of “Friends Before Larry,” but those bits tend to highlight the brilliance of the rest of the EP rather than feel like a departure. Osborne sounds as strong as ever on opening number “The End of Wisdom;” the touch of gutter-growling distracts slightly from the hook, but it serves the song as a whole well.
With over 50 releases—studio, live, EPs, compilations, etc.—The Melvins’ ubiquity is remarkable, but even more remarkable is the quality. One would think that the sludge style would have outgrown itself by now, as it did for many of their mentees, but Bulls shows that good songwriting is good songwriting, no matter the genre, circumstance, or supporting cast. And for the low, low price of free, there is no risk. Get this EP and enjoy!