So. The Melvins. It should be said that I fucking love The Melvins. Their earlier work is awesome but it wasn’t until “A Senile Animal” and the addition of a second drummer did they actually shatter my mind. There is just something to absolutely monstrous created when you hear two drummers pounding there hearts out to two similar but not quite the same rhythms.
Sadly, “Freak Puke” is not that album. (Look to the “Bulls and the Bees” EP for dual drummer madness) Instead we get a trimmed down Melvins, otherwise known as Melvins Lite. Feature longtime founders/members Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover in combination with Trevor Dunn on a standup bass. Trevor Dunn is notable for his work in Mr.Bungle, a ’90’s era jazz/fusion/metal/prog/experimental mismash of sound. Even if your not into that sort of thing I highly recommend you give some of that work a taste because it’s one hell of a trip.
So we’re minus a drummer and plus a stand-up bass and trimmed down line-up. The end result is something jarring, unexpected and surprisingly enjoyable. I give you fair warning that this is one of their more experimental albums, well, more than usual I mean. Solid, sustained grooves are a rarity and the stand-up bass adds a certain organic quality to the whole thing. Instead of chisling out an unstoppable monolith of sound, they have instead deftly crafted something that flips the bird to your expectations and forces many a listen through to absorb what the fuck just happened.
There’s a lot more “twang” in the guitar this time around. It sounds like that tone but just a little bit south of the musical border. It provides a sharp contrast to the mellow buzz that the bass provides. While the bass spends most of it’s time slouching through the background, there are time where it comes roaring to the forefront, with a slow drag of the bow creating a groaning a creaking sonic monster (Read: “Inner Ear Rupture”).
Riffs are still there to be found, with Buzz sliding in clever little licks and grooves, instead of just running you down with them. Everything is a lot calmer, with a clever grin on it’s face. It’s musical quicksand, as the sound flits and fucks around with careless abandon. I don’t know enough technical or creative bullshit to go on at length but at the end of the day it’s one damned interesting listen.
This is the kind of album that demands more attention that your average release. It’s the whiskey, not the beer, you need to sit down a savor. Even after 3 or 4 spins you’ll still be noticing things you hadn’t before and that’s what makes it so entertaining. Favorite track goes to the titular, “Freak Puke”. It’s one of the more straight cut tracks but still with enough zing to keep you on your toes. Also real tasty riffs. Real tasty.
“Freak Puke” is on iTunes for $9 and the Melvins (Lite) are currently on tour through North America.
A Youtube rip of the opener, “Mr. Rip Off”