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Melvins The Bride Screamed Murder

Melvins - The Bride Screamed Murder
1. The Water Glass
2. Evil New War God
3. Pig House
4. I'll Finish You Off
5. Electric Flower
6. Hospital Up
7. Inhumanity and Death
8. My Generation (The Who cover)
9. P.G. x 3
2010 Ipecac Recordings

Reviewed by: Rob Parker   //   Published: 7/16/2010

Full disclosure, I suppose: I'm a Melvins fanboy. So much so that I even tried to like Chicken Switch, the remix album that came out last year. (I mostly failed.) Pigs of the Roman Empire has a soft place in my heart, but largely thanks to "The Bloated Pope." That said, there are still days I put that album on and sometimes decide that the rest of the songs can take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut for all I care. Other times I spin that disc and make it all the way through without complaint.

What I'm saying is: this review has the relevance of a wet fart in a rainstorm. Melvins have already blundered their way into ubiquitousness as much as they've sidled into comfortable pseudo-obscurity. They've inspired a divided legion of fans - half of whom praise the addition of Coady and Jared from Big Business on a full-time basis just as the other half charges the band with jumping the shark and having "really fallen off" since the mid-90s. The moral of the story: Melvins are erratic as hell. But, man, when they nail it, the result is sludged-out, downtuned heaven. This is to say, you gotta take the good with the deliberately obnoxious.

So, I'm three paragraphs into this review and still haven't even talked about the album. The Bride Screamed Murder picks up largely where Nude With Boots left off. Except Jared and Buzz do a lot more harmonizing, and the big vocal hooks from Nude With Boots that seemed a little ham-fisted (not necessarily through poor execution, but simply because they were so unexpected) feel a little more organic. The guitar work is every bit as gritty and gigantic as it used to be. Though if you weren't sold on Melvins from (A) Senile Animal on, The Bride Screamed Murder probably won't change your mind. Also, if you're expecting something like Honey Bucket here, you're also shit out of luck, my friend. The dual drumming provided by Coady and Dale is a little less intrusive this time around, as well. Personally, I'm fine with that. I loved the fact that they really underscored the two-drummer aspect of the band on (A) Senile Animal, but it's not necessary to call attention to it all the bloody time.

Naturally, there are some really oddball arrangements and songwriting. Take for example, the opening track, "The Water Glass." It opens innocuously enough. Pounding drums, downtuned guitar work, feedback - the works. And just when you figure Buzz is going to deliver some demented yowl or Jared is going to do his best impression of Buzz's yowl, it all falls away to leave vaguely militaristic drum lines and call-and-response vocal work that sounds like it was pulled from Full Metal Jacket.

As with every other Melvins album I've heard - I had a look on my face like my cat just gave birth to a show tune singing cockroach and I couldn't decide if this was amazing or upsetting. Similarly, "I'll Finish You Off" begins with choir-styled vocals before morphing into a slightly saner sludge tune before breaking out a fucking harpsichord and what might be a child singing. Again, on my first few spins through the album, I just accepted it until I listened to something else and came back to it - once I had that contrast, I realized how they'd managed to blend the utterly bizarre into something I just took at face value. Though, in hindsight, is it all that bizarre? Children singing, weird chanting, two drummers, gigantic hooks and other strange experimentation? When did Melvins weld their stripped-down growling noise rock to prog rock? The seeds have always been there, be it through tongue-in-cheek spoofs of or homage to the excess of KISS or 22-minute long droning epics dropped midway through an album. It's just a little more apparent now, from the lone harmonica carrying the album off into the waiting arms of an icy choir bit that just dissolves into feedback and a reverb-soaked guitar that seems to be coming from a stadium, on the verge of playing The Star-Spangled Banner or Amazing Grace or neither.

Then there's the 7+ minute cover of The Who's "My Generation," which is composed mostly of circuitous bass work that sounds uncannily similar "Goose Freight Train" from Stoner Witch, and delivered with group vocals on the verge of perfectly capturing the sneer of Flipper's Bruce Loose. About halfway through, the song turns into loosely configured drumming and noodling guitars that seem to be played in the next room.

Perhaps the most straightforward track on the album is "Pig House," its finale a mess of spidery guitar lines, vocal harmonies and stuttering drum work. This conciseness certainly makes it the most immediately appealing cut and probably most reminiscent of something from (A) Senile Animal, if the band that recorded (A) Senile Animal had had several years to gel and really get their songwriting process perfected.

I think that's the largest rift between the current incarnation of the band and the people that recorded Houdini and Stoner Witch back in the early 90s. Shifts between Melvins releases were often violent, tectonic changes. While there were still stylistic similarities here and there, things were never necessarily "comfortable." It feels like, through absorbing Jared and Coady, Melvins have become a little more easygoing. Not normal, of course, but hitting their stride in this current configuration.

Bottom Line: For every step Melvins take towards a coherent M.O., they strafe about twenty miles off into left field. If anything described here makes it seem like this album or band isn't your thing, you're probably right. I'm not even sure at times if this kind of stuff can be ANYBODY'S thing, short of maybe the guys in the band. What I mean is, Melvins are still a challenging act to get into, it's just that they're also challenging the insular fans who believe that they should remain inaccessible and simply re-record Houdini again (for the third time, I suppose.) Plus, after that lacklustre Big Business album last year, it's nice to hear Jared and Coady kicking out the jams. Obviously, I'm biased, so if you never considered yourself a Melvins fan to begin with, maybe knock a point or two off the rating.

anonymous   posted 12/5/2010 7:34:59 AM
50 year olds, paired with dudes in their early 30's rockin harder than any heavy music out there. Melvins have become the most f*cked up yet important band STILL in music. Unreal.
tiger_   posted 7/24/2010 1:54:23 PM
wrong, Mind the Drift was awesome.
Girdle_   posted 7/23/2010 5:35:14 AM
Finally review a Melvins album, finally.
Rob Parker_   posted 7/22/2010 12:44:41 AM
Hey guys, Rob Parker here, this just in...I like the Melvins and I gave this cd an 8/10 because im a giant flaming gay waste of space with the lead singers dick in and around my mouth as i write this. That is all, Melvins(queerest band name ever) out.
NEGROID_   posted 7/21/2010 11:30:35 PM

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