Melvins – Working With God

Posted: 8 February 2021 in Albums
Tags: , , ,

Ipecac Recordings – 26th February 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Another Melvins album? But of course! As the press release outlines, Working With God is the second release from their 1983 iteration featuring Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and original drummer Mike Dillard and it follows the trio’s previous release, the 2013 album, Tres Cabrones. The sheer volume of Melvins releases, particularly with the trawling of the archives that’s been ongoing for some years now, paired with the infinite permutations of the various lineups means that the chronology has become increasingly muddy. But it seems the 1983 lineup is also the 2013 and 2021 lineup, at least on occasion. I think. Please, don’t correct me if I’m wrong. I can live with the confusion and factual inaccuracy. The point is, we have Another new Melvins album.

Working With God is a bit of a mixed bag, but then of course it is: it’s a Melvins album meaning it’s half serious, half twisted humour that’s likely to only make sense if you’re in the band.

Buzzo, of course, bigs it up spectacularly, coming on a shade Trumpian in declaring that ‘Working With God is a damn good record. It’s the album bands like Green Day and Metallica wish they could put out if they only had the guts. Foo Fighters maybe but probably not. Once again, no guts…’

He’s probably right, of course, but this does sound like a lot of ego as she calls out big-name bands. At least he’s punching upwards. As for the album, it’s hard to know exactly what to make of it at times. It sounds like Melvins, of course. Because whatever the lineup, Melvins always sound like Melvins. It’s got hefty drums, driving bass, and monstrous, overdriven guitars.

But on Working With God, it’s Melvins sounding better as the album progresses: ‘I Fuck Around’ is a pretty straight cover of The Beach Boys’ ‘I Get Around’ with the lyrics not-so-subtly changed, and it’s an underwhelming starter, and middling at best. They finally power into explosive riff mode on third track, ‘Bouncing Rick’, which is full-throttle and high-octane and sounds like early 90s Butthole Surfers – a good thing, and no mistake.

They’re in standard territory on the super-sludgy Sabbath-inspired riffcentric racket of ‘Caddy Daddy’ which is undeniably classic Melvins, and it’s by no means the only one. ‘The Great Good Place’ brings the guitars in heavy and ‘Hot Fish’ is low, slow, and deep, a squall of noise making a sonic mess all over the grinding, sludgy riff – but with vocals harmonies on the hook that lift it several pegs. ‘Hund’ is another churner, but delivered at pace, melding thrash with sludge, and calling to mind the material from the ‘Houdini’ and ‘Stoner Witch’ era, it really is Melvins distilled into a three-minute roiiff-laden package.

The off-kilter, comedic ‘Brian the Horse-Faced Goon’ is shit, but is equally classic Melvins – because if any band are masters of the mockery, of the pisstake, of the throwaway cut, it’s Melvins, and anyone who’s heard the ‘Cowboy’ single will attest. The corny Status Quo pub-rock glam stomp of ‘Fuck You’ only further reminds is that Melvins really aren’t a band to be taken seriously all the time.

To give any meaningful critique of a Melvins album is nigh on impossible. It’s impossible to measure it by any standards other than by those of other Melvins album, and the fact is that they don’t really care to be judged y anything but their latest output, even if said output is historical, and while the lineups have changes more often than I’ve changed by underwear, Melvins’ ethos hasn’t changes one iota.

So what’s to say? Working With God is a Melvins album. If you dig Melvins, you’ll like at least half it. If you don’t dig Melvins, you may still like about half of it. Who knows? Embrace the weird and embrace the riffery and see what you make of it.

AA

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