Album Review: Bride Screamed Murder by The Melvins
Great, Based on 10 Critics
New Musical Express (NME) - 90 Based on rating 4.5/5
Not content with inventing sludge metal and then grunge (via young fan Kurt Cobain) Pacific Coasters the [a]Melvins[/a] remain as restlessly inventive as ever. With each passing album their wall of sound grows ever more fierce. This album is an onslaught of brutal drumming and bowel-loosening riffs ([b]‘Evil New War God’[/b]), occasionally leavened by surprisingly delicate vocal interplay ([b]‘Hospital Up’[/b]).
Meaty and dirge-infused... Pushing the boundaries of rock for a quarter of a century now, the Melvins demonstrate they’re still knee-deep in miry grooves and the creative flow is certainly not stemming just yet. Continuing where the dark grooves of 8’s ‘Nude With Boots’ left off, ‘The Bride…’ exhibits the perfect marriage between the Big Business boys and Melvins main-men King Buzzo and Dale Crover.
Is there a cooler example of pure rock shred than The Melvins? Listen to this riotous dose of spine-shaking riffage before answering. Shot through with frenetic distortion and good humor, The Bride Screamed Murder is a bracing blast. The call-and-response opener, “The Water Glass,” is a militarized cheer and is suitably followed by the unhinged anthem, “Evil New War God.” The rest of the effort picks up that deafening train of thought: “I’ll Finish You Off” is a space-rocking blast; “Electric Flower” blossoms into a train wreck from a throbbing bass line; and “Inhumanity and Death” is a potent thrash injection.
“The Water Glass”, the lead-off track on the Melvins’ bazillionth studio album, starts off exactly how you expect it to start. A monolithic Buzz Osbourne riff, as fuzzed-out as his ‘fro, as heavy as Black Sabbath’s Born Again or Eyehategod’s Dopesick, but also possessing that unmistakable sense of groove that sets the Melvins apart from any other band in rock and metal. This riff not only crushes, but it swings, punctuated perfectly by the massive, tribal beats by drummers Dale Crover and Coady Willis, which exude a Steve Albini-recorded vibe.
Half way into The Water Glass, and I’m in love with the tunnels of grinding guitar noise that seem to dig through The Melvins’ smart-assed interpretation of militaristic discipline. The first song from The Melvins’ latest mud bath, The Bride Screamed Murder, The Water Glass sets an expectedly goofy and playful tone while also wanting to take your fucking head off. This duality with which The Melvins have come to be known is alive and well and still sounds wonderfully energized and alienating.
Some people have this idea that the Melvins hate their audience and/or have contempt for them. I used to have this idea myself, in fact, and distinctly recall expressing it in a review of their 2001 album Colossus Of Destiny (for those unfamiliar, this is a live recording of the band doing uninterrupted drone noise for an hour, ending in a pretty rad rendition of their classic jam 'Eye Flys'). With the benefit of hindsight, though, I'm not at all sure it's accurate.
At this point in the Melvins career, they can do pretty much whatever. Even if this means starting an album with a call-and-response track in the style of Adam Ant, complete with military cadence vocals and an extended drum solo. At the same time, withstanding some strange experimentation -- including a steamy a cappella version of the Canadian folksong “Peggy Gordon” and a sludged-out, seven-and-a-half-minute cover of the Who’s “My Generation” -- The Bride Screamed Murder is surprisingly accessible.
A list of bands decisively influenced by Washington’s the Melvins would begin with Nirvana and Soundgarden and go on to include close to every currently operative metal act worth listening to. Twenty albums deep into their career, a game-changer from the Melvins would be unnecessary (their status as underground icons is incontestable) and also unexpected. King Buzzo and company seem aware of that fact, as The Bride Screamed Murder is more or less interchangeable with 2008’s Nude with Boots both in terms of its sound and its level of quality.
From the first 90 seconds of The Bride Screamed Murder (the sort of trashy B-movie title perfect for the group's school-binder-metal MO), it seems like this most recent incarnation of the Melvins-- longtime mainstays Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover, backed by Big Business' Jared Warren and Coady Willis-- is content to stay the course and follow the return-to-form lead of their last two albums. That said, staying the course isn't exactly what the Melvins are best known for, so while the transformation of "The Water Glass" mid-track from state-of-the-art sludge into an honest-to-goodness marching song is unexpected, the fact that the Melvins opted to switch gears isn't a shocker. After all, it's following those sorts of counterintuitive impulses, for better (various B-sides from their 1997 AmRep singles collection) or worse (their Leif Garrett-flavored cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit"), that make this band worth a damn as it proudly trudges into its third decade.
They’ve ensured their own special brand of weird has never quite become the norm. Alex Deller 2010 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.