Review Summary: Melvins' debut and the birth of everything slow and heavy to come after it.
One could call the Melvins one of the most influential rock/metal bands of the last quarter century. Some could call this an opinion. I would call it a fact. Let's start with the most famous and mainstream documents of this: Melvins were one of the most important bands that gave rise to what was later deemed grunge in Seattle. They were stated several times as one of Kurt Cobain's favorite bands and he never stopped praising them after Nirvana
hit it big. In the metal world, Melvins are most often given credit as the first true sludge metal band. Everyone from the NOLA scene to post-metal have cited Melvins as an inspiration to their sound. Drone metal essentially began when Dylan Carlson took what Melvins were doing and slowed it down to extreme levels. Yes, that is three music genres (many more if you count genre spin-offs) that each trace back to this single band and it all began with this album.
Gluey Porch Treatments
of course was the Melvins' debut album. Released in 1987, it still retained the basic sound that the band would keep for its twenty-five-plus year history. "Eye Flys" begins with a creeping bass line and banging drums before feedback from the guitar enters, creating a sound quite similar to the drone metal that would arrive years later. The band continues to play with and evolve the noise until it turns into a seismic wave of sludgy guitar riffs and pounding drums at the end. Finally, the distinct sound of Buzz Osborne's vocals come in for the last minute before the crawling song ends with more feedback.
Now imagine having heard this when it was first released in 1987. The closest music to it before was the kind of amplifier experimentation that Jimi Hendrix
would do in between songs but with Sabbath riffs added to it. Most of the tracks following average about two minutes and feature the same sound albeit more condensed and generally faster. This is where sludge metal began. Melvins took the energy, sound, and attitude of hardcore punk bands like Black Flag
(particularly influenced by the last three songs on My War
) and mixed it with the chunky and slow guitar riffs of Black Sabbath
and doom bands like Saint Vitus
. The result is an album filled with dynamics, differing tempos, thick bass, loud drums, Buzz's yells and snarls that are full of awesome, and chunky, heavy, dirty (yet also catchy) riffs.
Each of the album's seventeen tracks (and now comes with twelve added demos on the reissue) are made of high quality sludge. There is simply not a moment that doesn't demand your attention and tells your head to move along. Even the production is quite surprising given how small the band was at the time and typical '80s production values. In fact, the sound quality would be easily accepted if the Melvins had released this album this year instead of twenty-four years ago. This is easily one of the band's best albums and one of the best of the entire genre. So anytime you hear a band that uses sludgy riffs, whether it be an old grunge band from the '90s or a new post-metal band from Europe, remember that it started here.