Review Summary: Say Skweetis ten times fast. I mean, it's not really hard, you just sound rediculous.
I believe the easiest way to have an unbiased view of an album is impulse-buying some random CD with a cool cover. This, of course, isn’t what you want to do when you are actually seeking good music. It’s much like Russian Roulette. You usually end up either with something great, or something mind-numbingly terrible. Now, I have good luck with these kinds of things, so when I was at my local CD store, I picked up the album with the swan staring at some flowers innocently, with the word “MELVINS” up at the top and the seemingly abstract title at the bottom. Stoner Witch.
At first I was like:
But then I was like: :D I lol’d.
So I’ve just bought some album about some hag with some ganja or something, and I take it out of its case and put it in my computer to rip it into my library. I’d heard of the Melvins several times, but nothing much about their sound or quality. Immediately after the first track loads, I have to change my pants because the sludgey tones that oozed out of my speakers caused an involuntary bowel movement. Excellent. This is no Sunn O)))
, but hey, it’s pretty low.
This is “Skweetis,” the first track off of The Melvins’ Stoner Witch,
and there’s plenty more sludge to come. But does this track serve much purpose? Well, not so much. It’s just a minute of noise and some angry vocals done by good ol’ King Buzzo lying underneath. It doesn’t really serve well as an intro, and there’s nothing overly enjoyable about it. At least it’s fun to say. Skweetis. SKWEETIS. Anyway, it really just shows what is to come for the rest of the album: dark, angry, messy, and trudging metal.
The first few tracks give you the impression that this album is going to be pretty straightforward. “Queen,” “Sweet Willy Rollbar,” and “Revolve” are all relatively simple, but strangely addictive. “Sweet Willy Rollbar” is less than two minutes long, but it’s easily one of my favorites on the album. It’s much more upbeat than the rest of the album, and the riffing is downright infectious. Buzzo churns out some pure anger both through his singing and guitar. “Revolve” is probably one of the Melvins’ most well-known songs, and there’s a reason for it, too. The first time I heard it, I had it on repeat for quite some time. The instrumentation is really simple, but for some reason I just felt like picking up my Les Paul and pounding some drop-D power chords after hearing it.
After “Revolve” ends, the Melvins depart from this punch-to-the-gut sound and head into an experimental direction. “Goose Freight Train” is a bluesy and mellow track complete with finger-snapping, and Buzzo adjusts his voice to match the feel. However, the song feels as if it should build up to something, and right as the tension is the highest, it ends. “Roadbull” is like a combination of the previous two sounds heard thus far. It winds in and out of calm and aggressive sections, and then ends on a rather militaristic note with marching drums and a whistled tune. It sounds pretty lame on paper, but it actually is pretty epic, even if this song contains one of Buzzo’s most laughable vocal and lyrical performances.
And the prophet injury
Lap warm and hold and keen
Been lord in time
I like the warm and I.”
“At The Stake” is the slowest and most drawn-out song on the album. At nearly eight minutes long, it doesn’t really travel in any direction. The tempo is enough to slow time itself, and it doesn’t change much at all. It is definitely one of the album’s main flaws. “Magic Pig Detective” is perhaps the oddest track here, but is plagued with the same problem as the previous track. The first three minutes are nothing but droning guitar noises and loops. Nearly at random, the song plunges haphazardly into a fast-paced punk-ish bit, with no apparent transition. This section redeems the song from being an absolute failure, but it’s still nothing worth writing home about.
“Shevil,” while not being anything extraordinary, is the only song on the album that’s mellow but not forced. It’s constructed almost entirely out of seas of guitar layers. The ambience is entrancing, which is peculiar when you consider that you’ve put “Sweet Willy Rollbar” under your belt. This is the calm before the storm, and you’re plunged into the instrumental “June Bug.” It is nearly the polar opposite of “Shevil,” being very fast and punk, but it feels slightly out of place amidst the melancholy second half of the album, not to mention that it’s just filler. The closing track “Lividity” is just over nine minutes, but it repeats one simple bass line throughout its duration, with a slight bit of guitar feedback over the top. There’s an occasional spurt of drums or other odd sounds, but other than that, there’s really nothing worth listening for here, except for the end. After a long burst of what sounds like wind blowing against a microphone, we hear the meaningful conversing of what seems to be a doctor and his patient:
“Ehhhhhhh, whaddya mean? Mah lungs are fine. *wheeeeeze*”
And that’s when it hit me. This is the meaning of life. THIS IS WHY I WAS BORN!
Overall, Stoner Witch
is an excellent album, though terribly inconsistent. The second half, though being completely different, just can’t match up to the first. The instrumentation throughout is very basic, but it just goes to show that you don’t have to be Necrophagist (ugh) to make a decent album. Buzzo is certainly a man you come to love, whether you just enjoy his voice, or find it comical (it alternates for me). His voice is the roar of a beast overcoming its prey, and his crushing riffs are a rolling tank. And his lyrics… well… they're comical, to say the least.
Sweet Willy Rollbar
Goose Freight Train