Label: Ipecac Records
Released on: June 5th 2012
Grade: 2 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz
The Melvins are a band that has changed line-ups a lot more often than they have changed their sound, the only tiny exception being their come back with Big Business, (A) Senile Animal (a fucking masterpiece). This album lets you know that you are in for a whole new kind of ride right away. Bowed stand-up bass draws out for a minute before Dale Crover comes in on the drums with... brushes?! Buzz even switches up his style, going for texture and a more melodious smoothness than big chords. This isn’t the usual Melvins style of weird, with endless, pointless fucking around; it sounds like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum playing in the style of The Melvins.
I would commend The Melvins, no matter what, for their fearless attitude towards gutting and re-arranging their band and sound, but I have to say, this is the most musically interesting thing they’ve ever done. I mean, with the bassist from none other than Mr. Bungle, Trevor Dunn, it should take a lot of effort to somehow fuck it up and not make interesting and mind-blowing music. He plays the double bass as if it’s a violin, and it’s time for “Flight of the Bumblebees” all the goddamned time. The instrument has such an incredibly far-reaching range of sound, and that is reflected quite well in the depth and clarity of the recording. It makes me realize what was lost when basses were shortened and electrified. They become all staccato, and you lose half of the cool shit you can do with them. Attention bands and bassists: if you want to be loud and really fill out the low end, go old school and grab a fucking stand-up bass. Props if you can actually strap it around your shoulders somehow.
I like this album a hell of a lot better than the last two The Melvins have put out, which honestly sounded like a watered-down classic rock style version of what they do. The songs don’t drag the fuck on here — they may develop slowly sometimes, but for the most part, they fucking rock, and I can’t stress enough how astonishingly low and thick they sound with Trevor Dunn’s bass. He does some amazingly weird fills and solos on it. It really becomes much more of an instrument at the forefront than the bass usually is in a rock band. I feel like for the first time, I am not just listening to the guitar and drums while the bass supports them, but I am paying equal attention to every instrument, and all of them earn it. The smarmily-titled “Baby, Won’t You Weird Me Out,” encapsulates everything good about this collaboration and could have been the only track on this album, as far as I’m concerned.
But here is where the praise stops. I am not a fan of the direction that The Melvins have taken recently, starting with their Nude with Boots and continuing in their last album The Bride Screamed Murder. They sound like fucking ZZ Top now. Their big stoner metal sound was the fallback when the songs were slow or, really, almost any time. Now, that sound has been neatly cut out and replaced with a kind of classic rock-sounding, hard-edged blues. Not to say I hate ZZ Top entirely or classic rock at all, but c’mon Melvins! We do not want to hear you jam out or lose your trademark stoner metal sound. Did you quit smoking weed or start smoking too much?
So, if you like the new sound, purchase the album from Ipecac; otherwise, only grab this stinky little pile if you are that interested in how a double bass works into a heavy rock band.