More Like an Uphill Climb for Sensitive Ears
To their diehard fans, there’s very little Washington trio the Melvins can do wrong. With a 25-album-deep discography as proof, there’s honestly little to combat the small faction’s eclectic and fairly prolific talent. But even in the span of their near three-decade-long career, the Melvins are just now reaching a feat they had yet to accomplish: the release of a double record. A Walk with Love and Death is more than just the union of two extreme sounds; it’s a creative opus with potential that perhaps surpasses even that of the Melvins’ previous releases — that is, only if ears are willing to open up and accept it.
In all honesty, for those that don’t really get what the band is about, A Walk with Love and Death is more like a hike with headache and confusion. Hell, even longtime fans may find themselves lost in the band’s experimental process. Part actual album, part score for a short film produced by the Melvins themselves and directed by Jesse Nieminen, A Walk divides what is sonically palatable with what is commonly considered cacophonous.
The Death component of the two-part album is only nine tracks long, but is where the discernible bearings for veritable songs live. Bass-heavy opener “Black Heath” has mild funk (or as funky as metal can get) elements to it, while tracks like “Sober-delic” and “Flaming Creature” slowly simmer like the finest of Melvins sludge. A bit of bitterness accompanies the score part of the album, and it is that bite that may make this release abhorrent to some.
Love is the longer of the two sets at 14 “songs,” but it’s kind of hard to even define them as such. Mainly consisting of found audio reworked into a loosely song-based structure, Love is more akin to the static feedback of an unclear TV or radio station. Its blatant noise won’t bode well for misophonic ears, solo or even alongside the strange and fairly uncomfortable film. Fans of the weird and uneasy will love it, though.
No matter how A Walk with Love and Death comes off, the concept as a whole is as brilliant as any other Melvins production. It has its moments of unbearableness, but it’s the kind of release that builds appreciation with each listen.