Review Summary: The end of the first phase of Melvins' career (1986-1992), their heaviest release and one of their most interesting and memorable.7 of 7 thought this review was well written
Between 1986 and 1992 Melvins released some amazing material. Classics like "Gluey Porch Treatments" and "Bullhead" brought intensely heavy, original and well-written music with an eccentric and comedic attitude. 1992's "Lysol" was the end of what I see as the first era of Melvins, before they explored more listener friendly areas in the 90s, and then continued experimenting and changing thereafter. It's also one of my favourite albums in the massive Melvins catalogue (although "Bullhead" holds the title of my overall favourite), and despite only being a half hour long and containing three cover songs, it's still an absolutely great, unique, original and influential album.
The album begins with the 11 minute "Hung Bunny", a song that would become a milestone in the at this point non-existent drone doom subgenre of doom metal (Sunn O))) did a reworked version titled "Rabbit's Revenge" on their debut album). The song mostly consists of heavy chords ringing out, with drums occasionally bashing in and chant-like vocals in the background. This continues on for quite a while until the drums keep pounding and build up with a huge amount of intensity, and then we move right into the second track "Roman Bird Dog" (I generally hate doing this kind of track-by-track reviewing, but it's almost necessary with this album). Here we have intensely sluggish, heavy and stonerish doom. The drums sound absolutely mammoth with Dale Crover's characteristic plodding on the toms and bass drum in the sort strange patterns he uses so often. The guitar is equally gargantuan, churning out some mean, bludgeoning low end riffs with King Buzzos usual eccentricities that follow suit with Dale Crover's drumming style. Joe Preston who had previously played bass for drone doom pioneers Earth joined the band in the early 90s, with this being one of the only releases he played on. Melvins switch bass players so frequently it's hard to remember who plays on which release, but Joe Preston gave some truly memorable performances. The bass fills rhythm section perfectly on Lysol, adding the sub-end crushing filth to the already intensely heavy sound. Really, I can't stress this enough, the first half of this album is the heaviest thing Melvins have accomplished, and very clearly a huge influence on the drone doom subgenre, particularly its champions Sunn O))).
Following the opening tracks the album segues into three cover songs, first "Sacrifice" by Flipper (Melvins covered Flipper at least four times) and then two Alice Cooper songs. The Flipper cover follows the first two songs with its gargantuan heaviness, slowing down an aggressive punky midpaced song to a super sluggish pace. I really dig Flipper, but this cover is like a whole new song. Next there is a little clean guitar interlude called "Second Coming" and then "The Ballad of Dwight Frye", both originally by Alice Cooper. King Buzzo's vocal performance is particularly of note here. His vocals are intensely delivered and tinged with bizarre little eccentricities (clearly eccentricities are the definitive characteristic in Melvins style). Normally he's belting out ambiguous nonsense with multiple interpretations but no particular meaning, but on these cover songs he takes meaningful lyrics and delivers them with great passion and intensity. Finally, the album finishes with the roughly 2 minute "With Teeth", which returns to the heaviness of the first half of the album but picks up the pace a bit and has more of an alternative rock sound.
Melvins have had a long career with a huge output of releases, but 1992's "Lysol" is one of my favourites and serves as the end of their 86-92 era, which had their absolute best material. The first half of this album is well suited for fans of mammoth, crushing doom metal (although Melvins aren't really a doom metal band, they retain their originality and strangeness even when playing stuff that is best described as sludge doom or drone doom). This section is certainly as heavy as it gets with Melvins, and in my opinion essential listening for any fan of Earth, Sunn O))), etc. The cover songs are also very well played and some of the best excursions Melvins have embarked on. On the whole the album is intense, memorable, engrossing and extremely enjoyable. Any Melvins fan or doom metal junkie needs to get this immediately.