In 1994 some kind soul played me “Houdini”. In the time it took for that album to spin I had become hooked by their churning spasmodic grind and thereupon set upon a course to track down any piece of Melvins music I could find…and in those days pre EBay and Amazon and before Ipecac crawled up their collective backsides it wasn’t an easy task…a labour of pure passion if you will.
So here we are 16 years on, 25 years into the band’s career and 3 albums into the current line-up featuring the Big Business rhythm backbone of Jarred Warren and Coady Willis. I have to admit both “A Senile Animal” and “Nude With Boots” were decent albums but, to me at least, neither scaled the heady heights of albums such as “Houdini”, “Stoner Witch” or “Bullhead” and both seemed content to rely on too much drumming cocksmithery to highlight the dual drummers…and possibly justify having two drummers when Dale Crover on his own is already one of the best there is.
Whereas in the past the Melvins could always be relied on to deliver a sideswipe to the temple and confound expectations…just check out albums like “Honky”, “Prick” and “Colossus of Destiny” for example not to mention the drone springboard of “Lysol”…with “The Bride Screamed Murder” it is starting to feel very much like business as usual as the band have found a little niche in which to ply their deviant trade. That’s not to say that this is a bad album by any means, it is in fact a very good album that like a child clutching a bag of sweets does start to give up its goodies with gentle persuasion. Repeated listens of this offering do reveal that this is a stronger, more focussed…more Melvins album than the previous two outings. The drum wanking is kept to a minimum and King Buzzo injects some of the leftfield tendencies that were perhaps missing before. Opening track “The Water Glass” kicks off in customary fashion with a glorious bombast of riffs before becoming the call-and-response marching chant for Satan’s army. Elsewhere songs veer from riff to riff and bounce from tempo to tempo in time served Melvins fashion with keyboards adding a new, spooky overtone. “Inhumanity and Death” revisits the band’s hardcore origins while an unexpected cover of the Who’s “My Generation” strips away almost all recognisable vestiges of the original to plunder the slow, grinding blues version from “The Kids Are Alright”…deconstructing a deconstructed version of a classic tune, that’s the Melvins we know and love. Closing track “PG X 3” revisits the Melvins ability to waste time on an album, like “Spread Eagle Beagle” from “Houdini” with a refrain that is repeated on harmonica, then male voice choir, then guitar…etc. It is pointless but then The Melvins are here to fuck with you first and foremost.
If the Melvins had never existed prior to this album, “The Bride Screamed Murder” would be a triumph and hailed as a classic, genre spawning deviation from metal’s often tired and clichéd lumbering output. The fact is, they have been here for 25 years and, although they stand alone in a field of one…still no-one sounds quite like them…are they becoming victims of their own uniqueness and falling into a comfortable pattern? Has the current collaboration with Big Business run its course? Would it be better to end the current incarnation on a reasonable high and affect a change? I don’t know but I do know this is a good Melvins album…but I expect greatness.
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall