11 November 2014

Melvins - Hold It In

I have a confession to make from the outset here - I withheld some information from you when reviewing 'The Bride Screamed Murder' (link here) and 'Stoner Witch' (linked here); for many years I was not the biggest fan of the Melvins.  There music just did not click with me, it just seemed to almost reach the point of excitement and then.... nothing as they would change the direction of the song/album/performance.  I can only akin it to being teased when you were a young man or lady and the other part all of a sudden just wants to watch the latest soap/cop drama, you are almost there and then it is gone.  But over the years (much like what I was experiencing with Clutch to a certain degree), I have actually found out what the band is about and discovered the joy that comes from albums like 'Bullhead', 'Bootlicker' and the two albums named above.  But what I have also found is that the band are yet to beat the album for me where it all clicked in, they are yet to beat 'Houdini'.  Now with this album (their 22nd studio release) the band is not playing with the duo know as Big Business, but rather with Paul Leary and JD Pinkus from Butthole Surfers.  In terms of American 80's/90's alternative rock, this sounds like a line up made in heaven/hell/a bar with stripers (delete as applicable); either way, it is something that at least sounds on paper like it could be interesting.

Starting with “Bride Of Crankenstein” we are automatically thrown into a swirling riff monster of a song, typical Melvins bass and guitar rhythms pulling your attention from side to side, drumming sounding as if the Titians are spitting onto the planet’s surface and King Buzzo sounding as pissed off as ever.  It is a very effective and interesting opening, but hardly a million miles away from what you were probably expecting either.  “You Can Make Me Wait” on the other hand is something not expected, not by a long shot and that is incredibly interesting.  It has a very gentle feeling with a tone of summer vibrations about it, not traditional Melvins distortion and the vocals sound as if they have come through one of those vocal effects that Cher used for the song “Believe”.  If I was not checking, at places it could have easily been a record from the early 90’s Americana Indie Rock movement and I would have sworn blind it was not the Melvins.  The more I played it, the more amazing it started to sound; what a strange and wondrous song.  “Brass Cupcakes” keeps up that early American alternative heyday feeling going on, it seems to be the perfect song to bring the best part of each band to the forefront and at this early stage of the album, it seems to cement what was one of my expectations of the record.  Also, the fuzzy breakdown in the middle which changes the tone and riff is brilliant as well.

“Barcelonian Horseshoe Pit” starts with the notes being played backwards and strange noises looping in the background and the drummer starts to make noises along with the noise.  This continues till the halfway point where the band unleashes their cocktail of sludge, noise and doom onto the rest of the song.  It starts to hit notes that Sunn 0))) originally stolen from the Melvins themselves, it is just a noise number which could have really been split into two separate tracks.  Fifth track “Onions Make The Milk Taste Bad” is back at the traditional Melvins sound and uses the extra guitars supplied by King Buzzo & Paul Leary to full effect.  It slowly hunts and chases the listener like an animal would hunt its prey in the wild, granted it is not as immediate as other songs I have heard from them, but it is a grower in every sense of the word.  The only problem is that it ends a little too soon; it could have gone on for a few more moments.  Next up is “Eyes On You” which is another song which has a different vibe about it, to be honest I was thinking it sounded like Weezer doing a tribute song to the Melvins, it has a sugary coating to the song but with a sinister underbelly; a little frightening, but also interesting as well.

“Sesame Street Meat” is wrong – it sound evil, menacing, like the devil himself is afraid to touch it because of the evil influence that it might set upon his twisted soul.  Of course I love it and think it is a genius number amongst many outstanding tracks.  If you do not already own this album, go to either the Spotify or Deezer link and listen to that opening riff – it is just monstrous and could easily be the sound of the damned joining together to make something of pure evil.  Following on is the super faster sludge number called "Nine Yards" which has the band racing towards the finish of the song.  The punk sprit of the song in obvious, but like a few numbers by The Melvins, I wish it was a little bit long.  Short, sharp and over far too soon - but a great song.  "The Bunk Up" on the other hand is a song that goes on for seven minutes plus and it delivers, oh yes does it deliver.  From the opening furious that morphs into a strange shifting sea shanty-esque number; but not before long the band are back in their full rock monster form and this slow, sinister and above all - brutal number just adds another twisted to this already strangely bizarre album.

To start the last quarter we are introduced to "I Get Along (Hollow Moon)" which is a silly little song compared to "The Bunk Up".  But it is the right track to follow on, it is fun and bouncy; but without being comical or cartoon-ish.  It is just a strange (a running theme for the album) song that would make most people either smile like a maniac or either drive them insane, it also reminds me of a band call the band Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet.  I have swung backwards and forwards over this one, not because I do like it - but because the mood make the song either amazing or just crazy.  I am leaning more toward amazing, but this is subject to change.  The penultimate track is called "Piss Pisstoferson" and this is another average song from the band, a very safe number for the Melvins and whilst there is nothing specifically wrong with the overall number there is also nothing special about the number.  It is one of the few moments on the album that does not quiet work for me, but not everything can be solid gold.  Ending the album is "House Of Gasoline", this is the longest song of the album and this song seems to have bits of every other song from the album.  You have the slow part in the middle with strange noises, the fast and heavy riff at the beginning, the feedback and chains of the ending - it sums up the album really well.

First things first, it is still not the album to have beaten 'Houdini' for me; but the band have not tried to do that.  I really do not think it is even in their mind to try and beat it, they just keep on moving on from album to album, song to project and if people follow then cool, if not then that is just as cool.  They will keep on steering the good ship Melvins as long as it is interesting.  At points of this record, they held my interest very well; songs like "The Bunk Up", "You Can Make Me Wait" and "Sesame Street Meat" are brilliant and show the hunger of the band.  A few tracks felt a little too much by the formula, a little too predictable; it was as if the meeting of two giants of the 90's scene in America made a very familiar album.  But I reckon this album is very good and this project will still have legs, I just hope that the Melvins reunite with Big Business one day soon.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - The Bunk Up

You can purchase Hold It In from Amazon here

You can visit the band's record label website - Ipecac - here and there is also a webstore which you can look at in your leisure time

You can visit the Melvins website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

For our Deezer users, here is a link for you

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