Review Summary: Year of Melvins
What’s been great about 2012 so far is all of the high-quality releases from some of the best bands coming back, whether announced or already released.Utilitarian
are the perfect examples of this. The former album is content to stay within the high-quality death/grind style that Napalm Death has established over the years, while the latter is a brave approach at new forms of songwriting for the Mars Volta, getting rid of most of the proggy tendencies on earlier albums. Both have been extremely good albums from famous bands whose careers haven’t deteriorated yet. With more albums from classic bands like Unsane and Testament on the way soon, one can’t help but feel overwhelmed at all that’s getting put out there. Even the smaller bands are being pushed out in favor of the bigger ones. With all of the quality indie releases of the past 2 or 3 years it was time for the bigger bands to show up the youngsters, proving they’ve still got what it takes to put out a decent record. The Melvins are taking this unwritten statement one step further, providing us with an EP and a full length with Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle fame. If this doesn’t salivate your musical taste buds or warn you of the coming onslaught of classic bands, then heed my warning; prepare yourself for a storm. The Bulls and the Bees
is only the next step in the plan of attack against your ears.
What gets most people about the Melvins is that even though they’ve constantly changed their sound, they usually maintain a consistency in their quality. Despite being part of the Melvin’s recent niche sound of sludgy metal with thunderous, bellowing vocals and dual drummers, The Bulls and the Bees
adds subtle changes to the mix to keep things interesting. The War on Wisdom
, with its commanding vocal presence and lyrical meanderings of “missing your calling”, adds a more Torche-esque sludge-pop rhythm to its riffing, resulting in an almost danceable Melvins track. We Are Doomed
continue the subtle changes, starting out very much like a traditional doom-piece but quickly molding itself into a vocal-centric song while bluesy sludge riffs run circles underneath the track. There’s even a very un-traditional guitar solo consisting of noisy chords and proto-Sabbath note flurries. The EP stuffs much more down the collective listener’s throats, with the quintessential quiet, almost ambient track midway through and closing out with a hard-rocking jam that should leave you, for lack of a better phrase, dazed and confused.
Melvins are one of those bands where you can have the cake and eat it too. They don’t make music for anyone but themselves, yet the fans tend to lap everything up. The Bulls and the Bees
will probably be another overhyped release, and justifiably so, as it does contain a number of the things that made the Melvins great. The sludgy riffs, insane drumming, and powerful multi-tracked vocals all make a spot here, but with the new-ish elements added as well. TBATB isn’t perfect though. These may be just personal gripes, but A Really Long Wait
wears out its ironic welcome after the 2-minute mark and the sound of twin drumming is noticeably absent throughout the EP. Therefore, I cannot lap myself with the fan boys on this one and instantly give it a perfect rating. It is however, a solid release that’s worth giving a listen.
What the Melvins have set out to make isn’t a sprawling full-length exploring all sorts of new territory (that comes in June) but a stop-gap release between “The Bride Screamed Murder” and the upcoming full-length, filled ¾’s of the way full with talented songwriting and a “We’ve still got it” atmosphere. Beware new bands, the Melvins are here to show the old guard is just as good as any of the new foot-soldiers permeating the music scene right now, and they’re damn good at it.