In an era when many bands find it difficult to still sound fresh by the time they reach their second record, the Melvins return to drop their twentieth studio album, (a) Senile Animal. New blood helps revitalize the long-running core team of King Buzzo and Dale Crover: Jared Warren, filling the revolving door bass player position, and drummer Coady Willis, both of power-stoner duo Big Business. While Warren fills the void left by recently departed bassist Kevin Rutmanis, Willis is by no means here to threaten the drum stool of Crover. Instead, the two combine forces to create an explosive wall of percussive fury that serves as the foundation of this mighty sonic skyscraper.Any fan of Big Business can already imagine how their sound would mesh well with that of The Melvins, and (a) Senile Animal is proof that sometimes a whole can be more than the sum of its parts. “The Talking Horse” opens the album, with Warren’s driving bassline sounding thicker than a malted milkshake. The last half of the song begins the demonstration of what the band is capable of with twice the drum power, as Willis and Crover pound away on top of each other. This mounting storm of percussion carries throughout the album, most notably on “The Hawk” and “A History of Bad Men.” Willis and Warren also build upon the vocal harmonies of which Buzzo and Crover have always been fans. “Civilized Worm” and “A History of Drunks” feature the clearer aspects of each singer’s throat intertwining multiple melody lines, while gruffer growls collide on tracks like “Rat Faced Granny” and “Blood Witch.”
The collaboration between these four is the same down-tuned, thunderous onslaught both bands are renowned for, with exponential drum and vocal layers to prove this group doesn’t have an ounce of talent or energy to waste. One can only hope that the partnership will bear more fruit.