Review Summary: I know witches were once stoned. But not pot-stoned. Which is it?
Masters of variation and anti-thesis of radio rock, enter Melvins. These guys don't release your prototypical albums. To put it in perspective, the Melvins aren't far off from adding a track of some fellow taking a dump and dubbing it "The Finisher". They're not exactly record-label friendly. However with some help from fellow Aberdeen-native, Kurt Cobain, the Melvins signed with Atlantic Records and released Houdini
. That was album No. 5, a year later (1994) the Melvins release No. 6, Stoner Witch
Perhaps the Melvins' most diverse album, Stoner Witch
incorporates elements of blues, experimental rock, punk, and sludge metal. At times it will sound as if you're listening to compilation of albums. Due to this, the album in its entirety may not appease the listener. In addition, the tracks have a wide margin of duration. You have tracks that span a mere two minutes, leaving you wanting more; then you have trippy tracks that seem to go on forever and tend to get skipped. This album is indeed a mixed bag.
short tracks occasionally show flashes of brilliance. “Magic Pig Detective” clocks in at 5:33, but the actual playing doesn’t begin until 3:33. Hampered, by three and a half minutes of filler, still leaves an interesting track with a thrash-metal feel. "Sweet Willy Rollbar" opens with a hog-like sound..? It continues on with punkish riffs and some wicked drumming, which leads into an outro that feels like a pre-verse. Other short tracks include the instrumental "June Bug" and bass-rooted “Skweetis”. “June Bug” opens with some playful drums behind a heavy bass riff. The guitar then enters with a cheery afternoon atmosphere until distortion crashes in. When the distortion fades the Celtic atmosphere resumes as if it had never stopped.
Of the longer tracks on Stoner Witch
, the whistling “Roadbull” and the monster-anthem of “Revolve” are instant favorites. "Roadbull" starts off with door crashing riff. Then Buzzo yells, "Bull, you square", and the tone settles. The chorus will kick you with a industrial-metal riff. Once you get to the whistles and snare-drum rolls, it's apparent that this song is something different. "Revolve" doesn't have any distinguishing factors, but I have no qualms in saying that this is the best track on Stoner Witch
. What's not to like about "Revolve"? Not much. In just under five minutes this track flirts us with a handful of riffs, each one great in its own right. A full minute is dedicated to a guitar solo reminiscent of The Guess Who's "American Woman". If you like catchy stylish riffs, happy mp3 trails.
In the midst of all the diversity, the bluesy "Goose Freight Train" stands out. Considering the album it's on, this is saying a lot. "Goose Freight Train" is one of those moments when you double-check to see if you're still listening to the same album. The relaxed atmosphere of the finger-snapping and dull riff really lend to Buzzo's sarcastic tone. I still can't figure out why it is called Goose Freight Train. Either way, the Melvins did great on this.
Unfortunately Stoner Witch's
most mundane moments are also dragged out the longest. The Melvins have a knack for adding pointless numbers to their albums. "Lividity" is just a mumbling bass behind some feedback, essentially nine minutes of background noise. It's not exactly bad music, just unnecessary. "At The Stake" and "Shevil" more or less follow suit. They do have more substance, but not by much. Consider this a heads-up warning.
Upon further analysis, I can't help feeling that some of the greatness displayed here is dwarfed by short track length. Several of these tracks could have easily been taken a step further. This is one of the conundrums you'll encounter while listening to a band like the Melvins. You just gotta take what they give, and in Stoner Witch
, they deliver a solid album with some excellent tracks. Of all the albums to choose from, Stoner Witch
is a good place to start if you're new to the Melvins. It's versatility showcases different aspects of the band. Meanwhile, if you're a Melvins fan, you should pick-up this up if you haven't done so already.
- Revolve, Goose Freight Train, Roadbull, Sweet Willy Rollbar