Lukewarm Effort From A Legendary Name
Dale Crover has a long and impressive resume when it comes to working in the music industry. His biggest claim to fame is being the longtime drummer for the ‘sludge metal’ band The Melvins, of which he has been a consistent member for over 30 years. He’s also got a large collection of various other bands he’s played in, including a stoner rock trio called Men of Porn, a metal super group called Fantomas, and, very briefly, a small Seattle-based punk group called Nirvana. For the final band in that list, he played on their ten-song demo in 1988, and nine of those ten songs were eventually released in some form. So it’s largely expected that when he chooses to release his own solo material, it will be of a very high quality. But it’s disheartening to say that his new album, The Fickle Finger of Fate, is not.
There are technically twenty tracks on Fickle Finger, but after listening all the way through, only seven of them are actual songs. The rest are various snippets of random sound, some as short as fifteen seconds long, that usually revolve around experimentation with various drumbeats. It’s an interesting touch for Crover to decide to record himself noodling as part of the album, but when it’s half of the entire thing it just leaves the listener confused why none of those beats ever amounted to anything.
What’s frustrating is that the few full songs are actually pretty good. It’s a very low-fi sound with raw, punk-y guitar riffs and garage-rock drumming. The title track is slower and more open while “Hillbilly Math” sports a killer guitar riff. The driving bass line of “Big Uns” is another highlight. Crover chooses to bury his vocals with so much reverb and distortion that they’re barely audible, and the lyrics make very little sense.
Another disappointing aspect of the album is that the small bursts of drum samples were pretty interesting and had the potential to become great songs themselves. But since they aren’t, the album seems unfinished, and seems like Crover is still trying to find his voice as a solo artist. Fickle Finger has some good moments, and Crover definitely has a good musical foundation to build future releases off of, but unfortunately The Fickle Finger of Fate is not his best work.