It’s not many bands that can lay claim to a full quarter-century’s worth of music-making, and fewer still who’ve been pushing boundaries and limits of acceptability all that time. The Melvins, however, are a true anomaly: a strange, goggle-eyed, stump-limbed mutant that should by rights have been scraped straight from the delivery room floor into the hospital incinerator, but has survived all this time on a steady diet of Black Flag, Black Sabbath and gasoline fumes while influencing everyone from Kurt Cobain to Isis and Mastodon along the way.
At first glance it might seem that, for their 20th studio album and third with Big Business apprentices in tow, things are as close to standard as these guys could ever get, with King Buzzo churning out glutinous, Sabbathantine riffs at a steady pace and his preternatural lowing seeping eerily through any gaps not mired in viscous ooze or grain silo drum thumps. It’s a testament to the band’s strange and unique talents, then, that military-style jody calls, ooky haunted-house keyboards and squeaky-dog-toy accompaniments can all be dropped into the rich, tarry soup without it ever even threatening to go off the boil. Instead, everything plops heavily into place and – at first glance at least – even seems as though it belonged there all along.
Wilfully obtuse as ever and doubtless smirking at us for allowing them to have become outsider metal’s sacred cow, you nonetheless can’t help but love them for all their mischievous ways, from the opening volley of riff-heavy rockers to the strange lumbering grace of I’ll Finish You Off and even onto their deconstructed take on My Generation. The Bride Screamed Murder, you see, all works when it really shouldn’t, demonstrating once again just how the Melvins can somehow ensure their own very special brand of weird never quite becomes the norm. Now, how about another 25 years?