A lot of people get misty eyed when they recall the glory years of 90s music. They’ll often harp on about Nirvana, or lament the passing of Alice in Chains, or if they’re real asshats, they’ll bang on about Pearl Jam. Sadly, they rarely – and I mean RARELY – mention The Melvins. The band that not only survived that flannel-shirt wearing horror story that was grunge, they bettered it in almost every way (include Mudhoney in there as well, they too are still pretty amazing).
I’ve never understood why The Melvins don’t get more props. They clearly inspired the lions-share of the more recent metal efforts (see Mastodon, Meshuggah et al), and between them, have collaborated with a truly impressive collection of artists. Perhaps it’s because The Melvins weren’t really grunge at all, at least that’s my theory. They were too metal to fit in with Nirvana fans, and to damn good to play with metal bands like Metallica. Plus, unlike their aforementioned major label peers, they are a truly prolific band.
In recent years – and I am sure I will catch some shit for this – I would argue that they may have released too many albums. I can’t keep up with them all, and this is annoying, as I want to. This leads us to tonight, where – if I am totally honest – I don’t actually recognise about 60% of the tunes. However, dear readers, this is by no means a problem. The band enter stage left, and just get on with business. No banter, just noise. Pretty much non-stop for 90 minutes, and it’s amazing.
I have never seen them play with two drummers before – the closest thing would be seeing the Melvins/Fantomas Big Band – and it truly adds a massive new dimension to their live sound. I wondered if the two drummers would drown Buzz Osbourne’s signature doomy guitar out, but it doesn’t even scratch it. Still as massive, piercing, and sludgy as ever, maybe even more so.
One of the most underrated elelements of the band – overshadowed a bit by the dense instrumentals – are Osbourne’s pipes. The man can sing, especially when combined with bass player Jared Warren. He has the ability to switch effortlessly between shrieking, sinister, and punky in the drop of a hat, it’s really quite impressive.
As I said earlier, I didn’t recognise a lot of the newer material, but it really didn’t matter. It was so brilliantly performed, it made me go home with a renewed vigour to actually listen to Nude with Boots, and The Bride Screamed Murder more intensely. I must admit though, when they dropped ‘The Bit’ (one of my favourite Melvins classics), I did almost cry with gratitude.
If The Melvins are playing in your area, do yourself a massive favour and check them out. Surely they can’t continue to be this amazing for much longer? Can they?