Melvins – Working With God


Sludge and grunge pioneers, Melvins, return with their 24th studio album and their first since 2018’s Pinkus Abortion Technician. Thankfully, the band show no signs of sanity on this effort. It’s heavy, melodic and uncompromising, and they could not give a fuck whether you like it or not!

The first track, ‘I Fuck Around’, is a take on The Beach Boys classic ‘I Get Around’. One may think the band are running out of ideas, but they execute it in style with distorted guitars, energetic drumming and modified lyrics to suit this version. Such a quirky sense of humour is always welcome. ‘Caddy Daddy’ is reminiscent of Badmotorfinger era Soundgarden with its doomy Black Sabbath-esque riffs and catchy chorus that Chris Cornell would appreciate. King Buzzo’s vocals share some nuances with the late Seattle legend, so perhaps it could be a tribute?

As an artist that avoids anything orthodox, it should come as no surprise that they split ‘Brian, The Horse-Faced Goon’ into two tracks. The first composition recycles the words of the title over atonal guitar. It’s almost like a conventional intro before it leads into a two-minute stomping hard rock number with plenty of catchy hooks and a memorable chorus, proving Melvins know how to have a good time and not take themselves seriously. Part two emerges on the Harry Nilsson cover, ‘1 Fuck You’. This time we have the opposite, with the group doing pop rock in their own idiosyncratic style. King Buzzo’s boys certainly know how to get their message across.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is ‘Hot Fish’. This has a strong Alice In Chains influence with a rumbling bass line and vocal harmonies. Screeching feedback and doomy riffs compete with a tuneful chorus and a layer of noisy effects to sabotage your listening experience. ‘Hund’ is just as distorted and chameleon-like in its determination to toe the line between pentatonic stoner rock and garage punk. Get ready for the guitar fuzz to tighten the skin on your cheekbones. It’s an acquired taste, but the chances are you’re listening to this record because you want something weird and off kilter. A quintessential record from Melvins demands sinister humour.

If you’re new to Melvins, this could be a good place to start. A lot of the cuts here are more straight forward compared to the earlier sludgy releases. Of course, it’s as much Captain Beefheart as Black Sabbath, but the faithful will love it, and the uninitiated are in for a treat. It’s still amusing to think this band once had a major label deal with Atlantic Records at the height of grunge.

RF


Verdict


Release Date: 26/02/2021

Record Label: Ipecac Records

Standout tracks: Caddy Daddy; Brian, The Horsed-Faced Goon; Hot Fish

Suggested Further Listening: Mastodon – Blood Mountain (2006) Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger (1991), High On Fire – Surrounded By Thieves (2002)