Keep on Screamin’, Lady
The Melvins are a wonder. They’ve been at if for over 20 years and with The Bride Screamed Murder, their 20th LP (or so), they’ve given us one of the best of their discography. These guys don’t usually do staid and steady; they take detours and experiment. On 2009’s Chicken Switch they recruited friends to remix their brand of sludgy, chunky metal and it was turned into nearly unlistenable noise. Here they return to form with new originals and an epic cover of The Who’s “My Generation.”
Album opener “The Water Glass,” is a bizarrely awesome thrasher that turns into a call-and-response march halfway through. It seems a suitable starting point for a band who have done whatever they wanted. They started in Washington alongside Nirvana and rode the wave to Lollapalooza, but with album titles like Prick, Stoner Witch (both ’94) and Electroretard (’01), a record deal with Atlantic just wasn’t their destiny. With Mike Patton and Ipecac Records, however, they’ve found a new home where their creative whims aren’t questioned.
Traditionally, The Melvins have elicited comparisons to the likes of Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Dead Kennedys and The Stooges, and “Evil New War God” churns and burns like the best stoner metal around. The funny and funky presence of an off-kilter cowbell does this song good, a hint that it’s not all long hair and headbanging. They’re into moments of dark silence with dramatic builds and crashes, and with standout “I’ll Finish You Off” their haunting, pounding metallics are accented nicely by an organ that’d fit right in at the Addams Family estate.
The whopping seven-and-a-half-minute version of Pete Townshend’s anthem sounds nothing like the original. It starts out very slowly with spare drums and a low, crunchy guitar before the choral vocals of “People try to put us down” comes in. For a song that was honest-to-goodness radical and poignant for a moment in time, covering it needs to be taken seriously and the Melvins do, which is a relief. The whole album is a relief, frankly. With the state metal’s in, the old weirdos who started it all need to drop gems like this on the heads of hardcore’s youth.