The iconic Melvins, those grandfathers of sludge/grunge/swamp/”insert adjective here” metal, have been steadily winning over fans over the course of nearly 30 years and 18+ albums, but nothing brings them to light quite like a live show. You really haven’t heard the Melvins until you’ve seen them live, and their latest album, Sugar Daddy Live, is just as good as being there.
Somehow, Sugar Daddy Live is like an elixir of sound and atmosphere that the good folks at Ipecac managed to bottle up and saturate into every crevice of this album. The dual drummers of Coady Willis and Dale Crover, the bone-jarring bass of Jared Warren and Buzz Osborne’s throat-searing growls and heavy, distinctive guitar manage to transcend the usual listener experience, putting you right where the action is…without having to go anywhere. It’s one hell of a setlist delivered with one hell of a wallop.
The album kicks off with “Nude With Boots,” slamming the listener with the double-drummed, almost poppy fury. Next up is the guttural, reverb-laden grind of “Dies Iraea” and the push and pull of “Dog Island” with Buzzo’s throaty, grating vocals at their best. Out of all the tracks on the album, this one reminds you that you are actually listening to a live recording, with lots of clapping in the unsure “are they done?” pauses.
“Civilized Worm” flows easily with a lot of warmth to the track. “The Kicking Machine” is catchy riff that doubles up on everything: drums, vocals, mayhem. The rollicking “Rat Faced Granny” explores the Melvins’ punk-ish side of grunge, a nice change from the shoegazer distortion. A rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” finds itself in here as well, a track usually only available in a limited release. An interesting version of the classic “Boris” caps it all off.
What’s most striking about the album is how well it captures the spirit and frenzy of a Melvins show, yet showcases in a very crisp and clean way (well, clean for the Melvins). The sound and the mixing of the album is perfectly done, making sure the listener hears every note as it was made to be heard: heavy, hard and fun.