Mon 16th October 2006
In the past two decades, the Melvins have done pretty much everything they can to shake their fans, including, but not limited to, line-up changes, triple albums, and albums consisting of 57 minutes of feedback.
Melvins fans are a tenacious lot, however, and refuse to be fazed. For all that, a few may be rattled by (A) Senile Animal - the addition of a 2nd drummer may be a gimmick too far. That the chap concerned, one Coady Willis, diminutive pounder of tubs best known for his time with ships-and-death-obsessed garage rockers Murder City Devils and now in Big Business, is comfortably up to the job is a moot point for anyone who squirms at the thought of drum solos and percussive exhibitionism.
This animal is not only senile but peculiar, in that it manages to sound like both bands simultaneously. It's not as weird as most Melvins material, nor as hectic as your standard Big Business offering, but in all the confusion, these four guys have made the most straight-forward, accessible and downright ROCKIN' album any of them have ever been near.
Things kick off with 'The Talking Horse', which is immediately recognisable as the Melvins - changes in time signature, distinctive percussive noises, and mildly harmonious screaming - but the extra drums make it altogether more tribal. 'Blood Witch' continues at a slightly slower pace, and really showcases the 2 vocalists; Jared Warren sounds a lot like a King Buzzo Mini-Me, his vocals complement Buzzo's perfectly. There is some repetition of old ideas, most noticeably bits that sound like 'Houdini' tracks, found in 'Civilised Worm' and 'A History of Bad Men', but these never descend into outright covers of old tracks. Stand-out tracks for me would have to be 'Rat Faced Granny', which ends in a cascade of drums, 'You've Never Been Right' with its riff-tastic driving pace and yet more drums, and 'A Mechanical Bride', hypnotic and disturbing, before 'Vast Filthy Prison' brings proceedings to a low-key close.
The impressive thing is that newcomers Big Business, absorbed by the Melvins for an unstated period of time, haven't been totally subsumed by their much older, well, superiors - if BB's Warren and Willis can still make their influence heard among the usual cacophony of Melvins excess, they're a powerful musical entity indeed.
It's all utterly ridiculous, but anyone who expects restraint form the Melvins needs their head checking. And for those who aren't wetting themselves over the presence of the Pacific Northwest's two finest drummers, there are still riffs, shouting and sludge a-plenty.