With a career spanning over three decades and having been cited as an influence by everyone from NIRVANA to ISIS, it's not to far a stretch to call MELVINS the biggest cult band around and they're undoubtedly the biggest thing to come out of the niche doom hybrid of sludge. Combining sludge with grunge, straight-up rock and a healthy dose of experimentation, they are truly in aleague of their own and, at this stage in their career, they could probably release an album of yodelling and still recieve mass acclaim. For the record though, I'm glad they haven't. What they instead deliver is thirteen cover versions providing a fascinating insight in to the band's influences ranging from novelty pop and stadium rock to obscure punk and avante garde. This being a MELVINS album, it is no mere stopgap but a cleverly thought out album with a brace of collaborations and plenty of variety.
They kick off proceedings with the heaviest track on the album, a fairly straight-forward run through of VENOM's "Warhead" with guest vocalist, Scott Kelly's (NEUROSIS) instantly recognisable rasp lending the track even more weight. This is then followed by the sheer contrast of QUEEN's "Best Friend" and so it continues with polar opposites of sound rubbing shoulders with gleeful abandon. Next, they turn the simple chant of RAM JAM's "Black Betty" into a mantra bearing more than a slight resemblance to the opening track on '10's "The Bride Screamed Murder", "The Water Glass". After this comes an early highlight in the form of cult punks, THE SCIENTIST's "Set It On Fire" with Mark Arm lending a hand. As anyone who's heard this year's "Vanishing Point" can attest, MUDHONEY have got their youthful exuberance back and it's clear that Arm (and MELVINS) are having a blast turning "Set It On Fire" into a "Superfuzz Bigmuff" era sludge/ grunge dirge. Another highlight of a completely different kind immediately follows in the form of an experimental take on DAVID BOWIE's "Station To Station". In the liner notes to "Attitude", MELVINS self deprecatingly comment that "THE KINKS recorded this around the time they were raking in royalties from VAN HALEN's cover of "You Really Got Me". Unfortuantely, they won't be making anywhere near as much from this" proving the ethos behind this album of the band as music fans before anything else. While this is billed as a regular MELVINS album, the next track, "Female Trouble" (the theme to the eponymous John Waters film) is the first of three MELVINS LITE tracks with the other two being "Timothy Leary Lives" and "Romance" by POP-O-PIES and TALES OF TERROR respectively with Trevor Dunn's upright bass playing creating the soundtrack to the world's coolest lounge. Elsewhere, ex-DEAD KENNEDYS legend, Jello Biafra sounds positively unhinged on a creepy rendition of ROXY MUSIC's "In Every Dream Home A Heartache" with the album concluding on a solo jam of "Heathen Earth" by THROBBING GRISTLE courtesy of Buzz Osbourne.
Overall, it's an album of highs and lows but when it's good it matches the quality of their back catalogue and there's enough great covers to earn it a place in any MELVINS fan's music library. (6/10)
"Everybody Loves Sausages" is out now through Ipecac