By James Olson
For more than 30 years, the only constants in the Melvins illustrious career have been the presence of vocalist/guitarist Buzz Osborne and drummer Dale Crover. Since 1983, the influential sludge metal outfit has gone through more bassists than a Spinal Tap gag, and within the last three years alone have released four albums each with completely different lineups. Their 22nd LP, Hold It In, sees King Buzzo and Crover teaming up with Paul Leary and JD Pinkus of the abrasive and equally legendary noise rock band Butthole Surfers. This is still music under the Melvins banner though, so one would be disappointed if they were expecting some incongruous mash-up between the two bands’ sonic identities.
The opening roar of “Bride of Crankenstein” sounds like what listeners would expect from the Melvins: Osborne’s barking vocals, Crover’s pounding drums and, above all, only the sludgiest of guitar riffs. Paul Leary’s contributions to the record mark the greatest departures from the more expected Melvins fare. “Eyes On You” is a tongue-in-cheek rockabilly rave-up addressing the prevalence of government surveillance, while “You Can Make Me Wait” sees Leary’s vocals distorted into incomprehension through a vocoder over a decidedly melodic track. The first of two extended cuts on the record, “The Bunk Up,” is probably the most engaging song out of the pack as a syncopated, muscular intro passage melds into a restrained bridge driven by an accordion solo warping yet again into a menacing climax.
Hold It In is certainly not a cohesive record, nor is it particularly groundbreaking for the Melvins. It sounds and feels like friends making music together for fun and with that in mind there are some gems to be found.Hold It In, The Melvins