The Melvins formed in 1983 in Washington, and have been dishing out radical tunes since day one, but thirty-four years deep they’re pushing the envelope once more, with a double album. Disc one, Death, sees nine tracks of corkscrew, minimalistic arty alternative rock, while the second part, Love, sees the band provide the score to a short film from independent director Jesse Nieminen; a combined effort with sees a kaleidoscope of murky, temperamental and psychedelically angular musical ideas.
Clearly a landmark release for the band members, A Walk with Love and Death (Ipecac) is a further example of the diversity and quality The Melvins produce when focused on making an artistic statement, and is a great example of what awesomeness this band of talented dudes is able to produce. So many feels – the kind of feels that are so unfamiliar you’re not sure if you’re enjoying yourself or experiencing anxiety, and it’s totally wicked.
The Melvins – particularly on this album, but also just in general – take all the most adored aspects of classic Rock n’ Roll sounds, sedates and twists them into something utterly hypnotizing. In regards to A Walk with Love and Death specifically, possibly the best description I have to offer is this – it feels like you’re being possessed by some kind of demon, but you’re enjoying the experience. Such an unsettling energy surrounds each and every track, but it’s a type of discomfort that perfectly falls under the category of oddly satisfying.
Let’s take the song ‘Christ Hammer’ for example – simple, but still a great representation of the album and the way it successfully tackles parts of our minds that most music doesn’t even think to touch. Lead singer Buzz Osborne’s voice is so extremely raw and distinctive – like a bright, vibrant blue against a pitch black background, his voice bounces off the instruments in such an extraordinarily bewitching way. Then, out of nowhere, they start to blend and in that moment the whole song comes together, and it just feels good! The transitions are impressive and the artistic choices which were made regarding several aspects of this track alone are absolutely brilliant.
While Love may, initially, seem like an optional extra to the more traditional Death disc, its unsettling noise-scape and absence of songs is both disconcerting and intriguing, providing an uncomfortable yet alluring atmosphere that tells its own story, regardless of the tale Nieminen’s visual piece will unveil. As an audio experience, though, it’s not an entirely essential, and the maudlin, sombre Death disk, rightly, should be the focus of what is probably the Melvins’ twenty-fourth album (it’s hard to tell)…