Friday, November 8, 2013

Melvins Make Up Some Tres Cabrones

For anyone unfamiliar with the Melvins, the best place to start is with their first major label debut. Houdini is the album they laid down with Atlantic at the insistence of Kurt Cobain. He even co-produced six tracks and plays guitar on Sky Pup (though most people prefer Honey Bucket).

Personally, I'm partial to the impossibly long, slow, and anti-commerical Gluey Porch Treatments. It was the album Mike Dillard might have made with the Melvins had he stuck it out after laying down the 1983 demos (later released in 2005) that didn't find any support.

But Dillard went his own way and Dale Crover stepped up to join Buzz Osborne and Matt Lukin. It was a decision that unknowingly put the band on a trajectory that intersected with Nirvana (Crover played drums with Nirvana on a ten-song demo in 1988; Lukin and Cobain were roommates before that). And in recent years, this same path has finally come back around full circle.

Mike Dillard returns for satire and sludge on Tres Cabrones.

With Crover stepping away from the drums to play bass (the instrument he played in Cobain's pre-Nirvana band), Dillard has been given enough room to re-establish his roots on drums. And while there have certainly been better albums put out by the Melvins, Tres Cabrones is anything but boring.

While other bands are reuniting to end on something other than burnout or simply trying to shore up some extra cash, the Melvins remain as uncommercial as ever. Opening with the infinitely strange Doctor Mule, which does everything wrong before somehow becoming the perfect oft out-of-tune and even off-beat-at-the-end opener.

It's not an acquired taste. You'll either appreciate it or you won't, right down to some of those beautiful riffs tucked inside the song. There are more in City Dump too, a muddy romp and stomp track that will make some people want to take a shower.

Along with their sense of humor, the Melvins do stick to plenty of slow and sludgy numbers like American Cow. The track lurches forward more than it moves the album along. It represents.

“I specifically wrote tunes that would be good for these guys to play and it worked out great,” says Osborne. “We had no interest in rehashing tunes we wrote 30 years ago and chose instead to simply create new songs. It worked out perfectly.”

Among the new songs, Osborne includes classics like 99 Bottles Of Beer, In The Army Now, and Tie My Pecker To A Tree. All three one-minute outbursts find their place somewhere between repellent and resplendent. If metal was trapped inside vintage animation, it would sound indistinguishable from those three tracks.

Where these side bars work is framing up everything in between. Stick'em Bitch is a brazenly sly punk jam, Dogs and Cattle Prods rails on and on for a fantastical nine minutes, Psychodelic Haze touches off a true psychedelic remix.

Although not all of these tracks are exactly fresh as any Melvins fan might notice, the entire album still has an impressive sound. It's everything you expect from them.

Tres Cabrones From The Melvins Smacks Smart At 6.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

This album isn't the best as an introduction to a band that has always danced to a different beat, but it does become an essential part of their late period offerings. What has always made the Melvins something of an anti-metal marvel is that they are never afraid to throw something down (or out). They revel in doing something different, which is precisely what has kept them fresh.

Tres Cabrones by the Melvins can be found on Amazon. It can also be downloaded from iTunes. The album follows on the heels of Everybody Loves Sausages, which is a remarkable assemblage of covers. Some are well known, like the 11-minute cover of Station To Station by David Bowie. Others are not, like Warhead by the black metal group Venom.
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