Review Summary: This meeting of talents ends up sounding like The Dead Kennedys, which is not really a bad thing.
Never Breathe What You Can't See
Jello Biafra and The Melvins
Alternative Tentacles, 2004
Jello Biafra- Vocals
Dale Crover- Drums
Buzz Osbourne- Guitar
Kevin Rutmanis- Bass
Adam Jones- Contributing Guitarist
The true spirit of punk is dead. There is no denying it. Sure, there are some Green Days and Blink 182s with their form of 'pop punk', but really, this genre died along with the eighties. Before this untimely death, there were many classic punk bands, from the hardcore Misfits to the classic Sex Pistols, a list of punk bands could fill volumes. One of my favourite punk bands of this era, however is called The Dead Kennedys. You might of heard of them, very talented musicians with great songwriting skills and some dandy instruments. The frontman of this band was vocalist Jello Biafra, who eventually left the band due to various personal issues. In an attempt to relive his DK success, Jello spawned his own record company, Alternative Tentacles, a company mostly involved with small punk bands. Eventually, he began recording albums of his own, and eventually teamed up with the hard rocking Melvins to record this very album...
Jello Biafra has a very powerful set of pipes, perfectly tuned for the shouting and howling best assosiated with punk music. His grand voice has not faded with age, thankfully, and he delivers a great vocal performance on this album, shouting like a true punk rocker on such songs as the epic 'Islamic Bomb' and the hard rocking 'Plethysmograph'. His lyrics are also traditional punk lyrics, that is, dealing with world issues in the least politically correct way possible. His voice and songwriting helps contribute to the overall energy that can be found here.
Melvins, when playing as a band, are quite good instrumentalists, using hardcore punk influences quite often in their trademark sludge metal storm. This album is no exception, with some great, speedy riffs displayed on 'McGruff The Crime Dog' and some great bass work of 'Islamic Bomb'. Buzz Osbourne can lay out some great (albeit choppy) solos as well as create his monster riffs. Drummer Dale Crover (who, interestingly, played with a fledgling Nirvana) knows how to pound his kits, and does so with lightning efficiency, providing a good beat to most of the songs, along with some good fills.
The meeting of these talents does, however, have its flaws, as, in the end, the music sounds much more like a Dead Kennedys record than a Melvins-DK hybrid. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, it may disappoint those expecting to hear a more Melvins style group of tunes. Some of the songs are also quite repetitive, and eventually the songs may seem to blend together and loose their value. The recording quality is also not top notch, being of an independent label, which may detract from the overall musical experience.
To a new listener of this album, I would advise listening to each song one by one and getting used to the style of music. This way, the songs will not sound as reptitive and similar, which can lead to an overall much more enjoyable listening experience.
In conclusion, Never Breathe What You Can't See is a solid, consistent effort from Jello Biafra and the Melvins, with some very strong songs. Despite sounding rather too much like a Dead Kennedys rehash, the excellent vocals and instrumentation make up for most of the difficulties present here. I would probably recommend this to anybody who enjoys hardcore punk or Jello Biafra's mighty voice.
-Good punk vocals
-Can get repetitive
-Sounds very much like a DK record
-Recording is sub-par