CD Review: Melvins, The Bride Screamed Murder

Some encouraging new elements have appeared this time out. One is the treatment of a maritime minstrel hymn ("PG x 3," a variation of the traditional folk song "Peggy Gordon") whose singular motif begins on harmonica, then returns on voice and guitar. I find it interesting that the piece is actually sung by the band, when ten years ago they might've been tempted to just sample it. Another surprise was the opening track "The Water Glass," which begins as straight ahead as you might expect, but devolves into a call-and-answer cheer/chant on vocals/drums that sounds like the cheerleaders and the ROTC mashing it up in the gymnasium.


"We are ready, we are ready ready ready


Rock me rock me rock, rock steady ...


Hey, in my arms. Hey, in my legs


We don't care, we like it there."


The standout track here is by far "Electric Flower," but I could've done without the cover of The Who's "My Generation," which seems overly-slow, and inspired by a bad night of karaoke. (C'mon, I saw you guys on Pancake Mountain).


It's refreshing, especially after Chicken Switch, to see a return to form coupled with the bending and pushing of artistic boundaries to reveal new growth. But, the record lacks the compositional integrity and punch of a Nude With Boots or the intensity of The Maggot (1999).


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After a disappointing 2009 noise/remix release, Chicken Switch, the mighty Melvins last Tuesday released The Bride Screamed Murder on Ipecac Records - their 18th LP, and their third recording as a quartet.

In 2006, The Melvins asked both of the dudes in Big Business (Jared Warren and Coady Willis) to join the band. Yes, that means they now have two drummers, and we are now in what I refer to as the "Big Melvins" era. (The Melvins are appearing at this year's Bonnaroo Festival on June 10-13).

Their last full band LP, Nude With Boots, still stands as one of their best. And that's not solely because the track "A History of Bad Men" was featured in a scene from a Lindsay Lohan film where she stripped (on a pole). It's just a great record.

On The Bride, fans will immediately recognize some familiar themes - odd-metered, sludge metal riffs that give way to military-style marching beats accompanied by whistled melodies (that first appeared on 1994's Stoner Witch, or maybe it was 1992's Lysol?). And to some, that is the "Melvins sound." Well, that, and Buzz ("King Buzzo") Osborne's speaking-in-tongues approach to lyricism. But since 2006, the "Big Melvins" have found their own voice, and that has meant more - and better - vocal harmonies (no offense, Dale), lyrics that aren't necessarily more meaningful but that do contain actual words, stronger musical arrangements, and of course two full drum sets, panned hard left and right. A much, er, bigger sound.

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