Melvins
Tarantula Heart


3.7
great

Review

by DadKungFu STAFF
April 23rd, 2024 | 29 replies


Release Date: 04/19/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The best thing they've done in almost two decades

I’d practically given up on Melvins. You might have too, after being subjected to clunker after gimmick-driven clunker for 18 years, culminating in the plodding, milquetoast series of farts in a dark room that was Pinkus Abortion Technician, an album whose two-bass gimmick was so inconsequential, you’d have to be told it existed for it to even register. Since their landmark release in 2006 with A Senile Animal Melvins fans have waited with an ever-diminishing fervor for something, anything to provide a worthy followup to that sludge-crusted torque wrench of a career highlight. From some accounts Working With God represented at least a partial return to form, but represented in reality only an ambiguous commitment to their former quality. Meanwhile, I’d gotten so hopeless about their trajectory that 2022’s Bad Moon Rising didn’t even register on my radar, and as of this writing still has not been heard by me. That said, unless I visit that album and make the unlikely judgment that it manages to top Tarantula Heart, I can safely say that only now, after almost 2 decades, Melvins have once again found enough fire in their collective guts to climb back up onto the sludge metal throne.

What sets the album apart from what they’ve churned out the past 18 years is its ability to channel exactly what has always made them great, while injecting a renewed sense of genuine musical creativity that finally sticks it to the tired notion that all they needed to do was play around with a new gimmick. The most attention might end up going to Pain Equals Funny, a nineteen minute marathon that chunks its way around various stretches of musical terrain in what feels inspired enough to go by like it’s half its length. But true highlight status may go to Working The Ditch, a song that sounds as though Melvins picked up exactly where A Senile Animal left off, a straightforward, pounding grinder of a track that is Melvins at their leanest, and their most essential. To contrast, touch on the inspired weirdness of She’s Got Weird Arms, its ability to sustain its spidery oddball sensibility while drifting daringly towards the edge of the annoying, held together through its clanging lurch of a drunk-waltz drum pattern. It might not quite add up to a career highlight, but, like this album as a whole, it’s as fun and fresh as the gang have sounded in years, a genuine songwriting risk that plays to all of the band’s strengths. If the pounding Allergic to Food doesn’t quite make up in fun what it lacks in substance, its status as filler is only cemented by a repetitiousness that had me checking the time for the first time in the album’s length. And Smiler represents another thoroughly nourishing heaping of meat-and-potatoes Melvins, a track that’s as much of a crunching rip-roarer as Working The Ditch, but with a hair less staying power, in spite of itself.

What Tarantula Heart represents for Melvins, at the end of everything, is a fresh start, a new look that eschews the half-baked gimmicks of the past few decades and seeks to play around with those familiar tools that have worked so well in unfamiliar ways, namely a bottomless bucket of gut-churning guitar tone reworked into madcap riffs and gargantuan shifts, Buzz’s inimitable bellow across the waves of sludged-up pentatonic roaring and thunderous drumwork. In short, it’s damn-near a complete triumph for Melvins, and handily reaffirms their status as one of the most innovative and influential bands in heavy music. With this on-brand set of oddball glue-huffer riff carnivals, we can safely, and definitively say, Welcome back, Melvins.



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user ratings (64)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2024


60929 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

N i c e, never heard any Melvins past Stoner Witch, but v keen to get this on alongside the new Bongripper (is A Senile Animal obligatory beforehand?)

someone
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2024


6724 Comments


You might be on to something here, but I really do not want to get my hopes up for Melvins again only to be forced to endure a decade or two of trite crap that should have stayed on the cutting room floor.

someone
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2024


6724 Comments


@Johmmy it is not, but if you want to hear an actually decent mid-career Melvins alb, then def go for it

Feather
April 23rd 2024


10247 Comments


I know nothing about this band, but could someone explain to me how/why they have 3 albums chicken switch, sieg howdy and never breathe that only have 2 ratings while the rest of their expansive discog has 100+ during that era? Was this a weird rating wipe glitch?

ThyCrossAwaits
April 23rd 2024


4008 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Those were recently added to the database, I think. They’re the two albums with Jello Biafra and Chicken Switch is an album of remixes by other artists, so I imagine nobody bothered to add them previously.

someone
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2024


6724 Comments


Think of them like when rappers release mixtapes. It's always a bunch that are inconsequential, but then every other or one in three gets the hype cause it ain't throwaway paycheck release.

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2024


5008 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Senile Animal is lowkey a top 5 Melvins album don't heed someone on this

ShadowRemains
April 23rd 2024


27853 Comments


oh i should give this a spin

Valkoor952
April 23rd 2024


4821 Comments


"is A Senile Animal obligatory beforehand?"

Kind of, it's top 5 Melvins undoubtedly

Flugmorph
April 23rd 2024


34567 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

fucks. beastly.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
April 24th 2024


16660 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

very cool

DoofDoof
April 24th 2024


15312 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Still don't really get them...it's alright. As ever, some cool enough ideas, no song that'll stick.

Aluktodolo
April 24th 2024


559 Comments


I’ve always thought their collab with Lustmord is massively overlooked and some of the best stuff they’ve ever released.

DoofDoof
April 24th 2024


15312 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I dig Lustmord so will check

kkarron
April 24th 2024


1410 Comments


Great to see Melvins back on top again. The last two were pretty good, will give this one a listen soon too. They did so much pointless crap for 15 years that I also thought to give up on 'em.

chemicalmarriage
April 24th 2024


4323 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh fuck yea

Rawmeeth38
April 25th 2024


2710 Comments


That opener is something

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
April 25th 2024


16660 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bad Moon Rising was great btw

Sharenge
April 25th 2024


5343 Comments


alright the discog takes have prompted me to grab more ablums

moar melvins, moar!

VlacDrac
April 25th 2024


2595 Comments


Great review. I will check this out soon. As other users have said, I too agree with how The Melvin's haven't released anything great in the last fourteen years. And yes, I did enjoy The Bride Screamed Murder, it was the first Melvins' album I've ever heard and I still think it's decent. Gotta love that sludgy rendition of My Generation.



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