Leave it to the Melvins to fuck with the formula for apparently nothing more than weirdness’ sake. A year shy of their 30th anniversary, the legendary group – a major influence on both the grunge scene of the early ’90s (drummer Dale Crover played on Nirvana’s Bleach demos and guitar/ vocalist Buzz Osborne later introduced Kurt and Krist to Dave Grohl) and more contemporary stoner/ drone-metallers like Boris and Isis – have chosen to avoid that tricky 19th album slump by randomly rearranging their line-up. A few years back Osborne and Crover merged with bass/drums duo Big Business to form a double-drummer sludge supergroup, but for the recoding of Freak Puke (credited to “Melvins-Lite” and released through Mike Patton’s Ipecac label on June 5) Coady Willis and Jared Warren were relegated – albeit temporarily – to the bench in favour of Mr. Bungle’s Trevor Dunn, who switches throughout the course of the album between bowed upright and standard rock bass. So far, so typically odd, and the music doesn’t disappoint in terms of strangeness either: scraping horror movie strings run into noodling, jazzy guitar riffs, bluesy bluster and hair-metal squall meet punk-rock hollering and pounding rhythms are turned on their head by off-kilter time signatures. There’s even a grinding, growling cover of Wings’ “Let Me Roll It” that would no doubt get an enthusiastic thumbs-up from Macca himself if he weren’t so busy being a saint in a country mansion somewhere. Always entertaining, and – even in “Lite” form – heavy as hell, Melvins are in a class of their own; listen to “Leon VS The Revolution” below.
Freak Puke is out June 5 on Ipecac Recordings