Friday, 17 June 2016

Melvins - "Basses Loaded" (Album Review)

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 03/06/2016
Label: Ipecac Recordings



“Basses Loaded” is yet another stellar release from the Melvins. They may never release another record as influential as their 80’s and 90’s classics but the fact they are still unleashing vital shots of oddball heavy rock, 33 years into their career is testament to their immortal power.

“Basses Loaded” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. The Decay of Lying (Steve McDonald)
02. Choco Plumbing (Jared Warren)
03. Beer Hippie (Dale Crover, aka Melvins 1983 lineup)
04. I Want To Tell You (Steve McDonald)
05. Captain Come Down (JD Pinkus)
06. Hideous Woman (Steve McDonald)
07. Shaving Cream (Dale Crover, aka Melvins 1983 lineup)
08. Planet Distructo (Trevor Dunn, aka Melvins Lite lineup)
09. War Pussy (Steve McDonald)
10. Maybe I Am Amused (Krist Novoselic)
11. Phyllis Dillard (Dale Crover, aka Melvins 1983 lineup)
12. Take Me Out To The Ballgame (Dale Crover, aka Melvins 1983 lineup)


The Review:

What came first – the title or the concept of the new Melvins record? Either way, “Basses Loaded” is a good name to cap off this multi bass player extravaganza. The deadly duo of King Buzzo and Dale Crover are joined by a plethora of four-string warriors and tub-thumpers to create another solid entry in the Melvins’ canon.

The plethora of personnel involved in the creation of this album might raise concerns about its coherence.  These doubts prove unfounded as “Basses Loaded” has the feel of a singles collection from a band in their prime. The fun of playing ‘guess the bass player’ only adds to this infectious energy.

The most distinctive contribution here is provided by Trevor Dunn on the excellent “Planet Distructo”. His upright bass is the foundation for a subdued slow-burning track which provides stark contrast to the high octane mayhem elsewhere and ends up being one of the albums highlights. The song concludes with Dunn and Crover engaged in a duelling jazzy solos, both musicians relishing the chance to cut loose.  Next easiest to spot is Jared Warren who brings the heavy metal thunder on “Choco Plumbing”.

Everything we’ve come to expect from the current Melvins first team line-up of Buzzo, Crover and the Big Business rhythm section is in full effect here. It’s four minutes of hard-rocking riffs, thunderous dual drumming and maniacal harmonies that makes you yearn for another full-length from these guys soon.

The rest of the four string warriors here are harder to place on first listen but provide some killer contributions. Butthole Surfer’s JD Pinkus fuels some serious riffarama on “Captain Come Down” while Krist Novoselic brings bass and accordion to the unexpected power pop of “Maybe I’m Amused”.

The remaining tracks are split between Redd Kross’ Steve Macdonald and Melvins’ own Dale Crover on low end duty. Mike Dillard gets behind the kit to allow Crover to power through the pummelling likes of “Beer Hippie” and the cheeky foul-mouthed nursery rhyme “Shaving Cream”.  Macdonald’s tunes cover similarly diverse ground, from classic Melvins facemelters like “War Pussy” to the catchy glam stomp of “I Want To Tell You”. “The Decay of Dying” is Macdonald’s best contribution though, and probably the pinnacle of “Basses Loaded”. It utilises the classic grunge quiet/loud dynamic to great effect with periods of restrained crawling menace giving way to bursts of anthemic release.

Basses Loaded” is yet another stellar release from the Melvins. They may never release another record as influential as their 80’s and 90’s classics but the fact they are still unleashing vital shots of oddball heavy rock, 33 years into their career is testament to their immortal power.  

Basses Loaded” is available here

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