Melvins – The Bride Screamed Murder
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Nearly 30 years in the music industry is nothing to scoff at. Think about the fact that many acts fade away after being one-hit-wonders or maintaining a career for only a decade. Then, when most bands do stick around for longer than that, their material tends to suffer. The music becomes redundant, boring, recycled hogwash that only the most hardcore or dimwitted of fans can support. Not the Melvins.
This band, which is composed of mainstays “King” Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover, has progressed in their own twisted way since forming in the early 1980s in Montesano, Wash. These two guys have also been through a plethora of band members, both in the studio and on the road. Many of them weren’t just random players, either. I’m talking guys like guitarist Adam Jones, of Tool; bassist Joe Preston, of Earth, High on Fire, and multiple others; and bassist Trevor Dunn, of Mr. Bungle. There’s also the fact that Kurt Cobain – yes, that Kurt Cobain – tried out for a spot in the band, but couldn’t cut it.
But the band’s mythology aside, Melvins do one thing and they do it well. They create progressive, always-changing, heavy-as-hell music that has remained relevant and interesting since properly debuting with 1987’s Gluey Porch Treatments. Since then, the band has dabbled in a number of genres, from noise to punk to metal, sometimes on one album. And we have heard them do just this on their three most recent records: 2006’s sludge, punk-filled (A) Senile Animal; 2008’s Led Zeppelin-with-crud-on-it Nude With Boots; and this June’s lo-fi garage rock-oozing The Bride Screamed Murder. Apologies for the somewhat gaudy descriptions, but there are few other ways to truly capture the intensity and harshness of this band’s music.
Throughout these three records, Crover and Osborne filled out their rhythm section by younger sludge mongers Big Business, which is made up of bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis. And the influence of both bands clearly bleeds through since Big Business came onboard with (A) Senile Animal. Then there’s the fact that his dynamic makes for one hell of a live show, with Crover and Willis drumming simultaneously and trading off drum fills and solos. That style also translates well on the recorded material, particularly on the percussion-heavy The Bride Screamed Murder. While it’s never been an afterthought for the band, the drumming on here is a true standout. You hear this in the second-half breakdown of “Evil War No God” along with the sludgetastic cover of the Who’s “My Generation”.
That’s not to say the Melvins have forgotten their ability to drill chugging, raucous riffs into your skull. “Pig House” is armed with in-stereo, oddly timed guitars that bring to mind old school material from this band of Pacific Northwest rockers. And “Inhumanity and Death” sounds just like you would imagine from its name. The first minute punches you in the throat before a barrage of guitars and drums squeal and slam their way around your airspace.
Some listeners will likely dismiss the tendency of tracks on this album to contain several songs within themselves. And that’s certainly a justified response. Cuts such as “I’ll Finish You Off”, which boasts chipmunked vocals, and “P.G. x 3”, a strange ambient journey, play like hallucinogenic trips. If you’re looking for more straight-ahead Melvins jams, this isn’t necessarily your stop. Instead, tread backward to, perhaps, Nude With Boots. But that being said, there are notable elements of a more listener-friendly sound on this record. Album-opener “The Water Glass” is injected with equal parts drunken bar-rock and sing-along pop, the latter of which bleeds through in the back-and-forth chanting.
Yet, with all of these different musical concepts, The Bride Screamed Murder remains distinctively cohesive thanks to reasonably solid pacing and steady riffage. It might not be the strongest Melvins release in the past five years or decade, even, but it remains a fine effort from an exceptional group.