The Emperor’s New Boots
What’s the best way to punctuate 25 years flourishing in music amidst a rash of one-album wonders? Reinvent yourself expertly with every new release, and each time make sure it kicks ass. That’s the way of The Melvins. With rhythm section additions Big Business returning as full members (Coady Willis on drums/vocals, Jared Warren on bass/vocals) from 2006’s masterful style refinement (A) Senile Animal, The Melvins’ Nude with Boots is another earful of awesome.Unlike the somewhat straightforward hard rock that pleased many casual fans on (A) Senile Animal, Nude with Boots hints at the edgier, more experimental side the group displayed on their classic albums Prick, Honky and The Crybaby. Along with that gradual transition comes the precision use of four-part harmony. No joke.
“Dies Iraea” plods forth with menacing creepiness, allowing each note’s higher register to ring long before dropping the riff back into hard distortion. Album closer “It Tastes Better than the Truth” can only be described as a terrifying rumination on a common phrase, with sludgy melodies sliding up and down while numerous voices scream “I would guess so,” as if confronted with the world’s worst impossible decision. Another experiment, “The Stupid Creep,” comes closest in description to Frank Zappa-style doo-wop done with punk sensibility.
King Buzzo, Dale Crover, Willis and Warren’s vocal interplay also scratches the surface of something brilliant for heavy music. “Dog Island” starts in doom-y territory, Buzzo and Warren singing first over Crover and Willis’ detailed fills until the pace quickens and all four sing together (“Could you tell by the motion? / Could you tell by the light? / Could you tell that it’s true?”), capped by a decrescendo with the two drummers singing in high-pitched murmurs and drumrolls fading away. “Billy Fish,” “The Kicking Machine” and “The Smiling Cobra” each use this technique to impart the music with a gripping sense of urgency and drama, the four voices combining to form a distinct, fresh sound. Call it music from the real Eagles of death metal.