The Melvins - Hold It In

The Melvins - Hold It In

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The Melvins, hot from celebrating their 30th anniversary of relentless touring and with over twenty albums, bring us Hold It In, jam packed with black humour, fantastically weird song titles and downright odd ball musicality.

Granted the line-up has been changed more times that Mick Jagger’s girlfriends but in some way or another they have been around for an age. They are stalwarts in the music industry…loons… but stalwarts nonetheless.

Joining the Melvins originals; Dale Crover and the legendary frontman that is King Buzzo are Paul Leary and JD Pinkus of Butthole Surfers fame; both of whom take over lead vocal duties on a handful of tracks.

Hold It In marks a crossover between the band and their fellow noise peddlers; Butthole Surfers. Considering their filthy and flippant reputations alongside their shared affinity for a delightful racket and an unhealthy obsession with black humour it comes as no real surprise that they collaborated to produce this wonderfully bizarre offering.

The result; a musical merger between the two that amplifies their insanity whilst providing one of the catchiest Melvin records to date melding sickeningly sweet, sugar laden melodies with the foundations of scuzz they are both famous for.

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Bride of Crankenstein - Right from the off the dirty, grinding guitar has me hooked, then the lyrics kick in and boy I am totally taken with these odd ball fruit loops, classic sludge from a classic band!

You Can Make Me Wait - A trippy, almost dance song backed up with some killer drum work and a relentless back beat of twiddly guitar heaven is just enough to recover this one from making it onto my shit list, just. The vocals grate a little with the effect daubed all over it reminiscent of a time fond of lycra and leg warmers.

Brass Cupcake - Almost Greenday in its introduction with a pop laden, relaxed offering but then not quite, just as you are getting comfortable thinking this is what they are staying with…the screaming vocals kick in, reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon villain, showing the still humorous but definitely darker Melvins side we all know and love. The guitar/drum kick off in the middle breaking it up nicely and showing the musical strength behind these guys.

Barcelonian Horseshoe Pit - Sonic trippiness here lies within, whatever these guys were smoking to come up with this hypnotic little number, I want some!

Onions Make The Milk Taste Bad - Instantly recognisable as a Melvins offering, showcases Buzzo’s penchant for grotesque lyricism alongside trying to take those inimitable heavy guitars in a nippier direction something that is followed through in Sesame Street Meat. Onions ends on a sludgy slice of guitar heaven making me want more! A stoner jam for sure.

Eyes On You - The freewheeling guitar and growly lyrics provide a boppy little number without straying too far from the Sludge we know and love, very catchy, very singable with a blues inspired guitar solo that really meshes it all together. It shouldn’t work but it does. It has an almost 60’s vibe at points, what an incredibly easy song to sing along to.

The grizzled offerings Sesame Street Meat, Onions Make the Milk Go Bad and The Bunk Up offer the bloodlust filled carnality under a cartoonish guise that is familiar. Stomping percussion and serrated fretwork make it work.

Moving forward slightly to near the end of the album is Piss Pisstoferson. Well, any song with a name like that deserves a listen and you all know it. From the off the heavy guitar work I adore so much, this Pinkus offering gives a riff that zips in and out of his own bass work supported by a typically frantic Crover performance.

Overall a bloody good album, Pinkus’ tracks are fairly straightforward affairs; Bride of Crankenstein offering classic Melvin sludge as a monolithic riff weaves its way around the band. Nine Yards is quicker, more urgent- the guitars are erratic, yes, but it is the twiddletastic riffs that take precedence over mediocre delivery.

Leary keeps close to Surfers territory; this is either a good thing or a bad thing, they either stick out like a granny at a rave or offer a wave of freshness, I can’t decide and to be fair I am not sure I need to. I am kinda just liking the album for what it is without wrapping it up and putting it in a neat little box…some things were made to be left messy; the Melvins if anyone can pull it off and they do.

The grizzled offerings Sesame Street Meat, Onions Make the Milk Go Bad and The Bunk Up offer the bloodlust filled carnality under a cartoonish guise that is familiar. Stomping percussion and serrated fretwork make it work.

There are times that the incongruence between the cloyingly sweet and the bitterly sour toes the line between clever and saccharine; You Can Make Me Wait is lethargic with its vocoder vocals but pulls it back with a triumphant Leary solo.

The fact that this is not only a collaborative effort but one that carries three different singers across the albums 12 tracks probably explains the mismatched feeling held within, the unifying characteristic though; the punishing level of loudness. There is not one song that should be played quietly.

After 30 years the Melvin’s have an established fan base, they could keep churning out the same old but would they be fulfilled and frankly why should they!? This album offers the insight into new projects, Surfers fans will view Leary and Pinkus in a whole (gettit!) new light and Melvin’s fans have to appreciate the ‘fumble in the dark room at a party’ attempt at something new

And so it goes, the musical equivalent of your very own Uncle Knobhead; he believes in ghosts, all things conspiracy and enjoys throwing some drunken shapes on the dance floor. A bit staid at times but beloved nonetheless. Let’s face it without their totally un-politically correct way of viewing the world, heavy music would be a dam sight poorer place to be.

Words: Kat Hilton 

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