This double-LP package combines two of the earliest releases from the often imitated but never duplicated Melvins. Formed in the early-’80s in the scenic wonderland known as Aberdeen, WA, the band took inspiration from Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Venom, Flipper, Stooges and other floggers of high-energy, low-velocity plod. Today, more than 30 years later, they might be more popular than ever. Slow and steady wins the race.
Disc one is Ozma, from 1989, which was recorded soon after their move from Washington to San Francisco, and was their first release to include the diminutive yet mighty Lorax (Lori Temple Black) on bass. In fact, the first sound one hears at the album’s opening is Lori standing on her tiptoes to switch on her amp, thereby warning the listener of the onslaught to come. Distorted, down-tuned doom riffs start, stop, lurch sideways with no warning, and seem to end before they start. Buzz Osborne adds extraneous guitar static and vocal squeals. Drummer Dale Crover plays as if he’s inside a barrel going over Niagara Falls; the long, slow fall allows the space between beats to grow and grow until he crashes into the water with the vessel blasting apart in an explosion of drum rolls. The classic Melvins heavy grind is set up and broken up by assorted odd sidetracks: “Revulsion / We Reach” flows forward slower and slower until it eventually melts into a gooey feedback drone. “Raise a Paw” is a superball paddled against one’s head by a grinning village idiot. “Love Thing” enlists in the Kiss Army before getting dishonorably discharged.
Disc two is Bullhead, from 1991. The songs are longer, the mood is calmer, yet more menacing. “Boris” (which gave the Japanese group their name) is a long, slow, low death march of addiction and self-abuse. “Zodiac” is a frantic punk rock machine gun blasting away at Buzz’s demons (both inner and outer). “Cow” is a happy baboon bashing away at the best drum solo of his life. “It’s Shoved” is a groovy beat for the cast of Shindig to bop along to, until their carefree performances of The Pony, The Mashed Potato, and The Watusi are horribly interrupted by the soundstage tilting up and sliding them all into a mangled heap of screaming dancers, broken cameras and flaming electronic equipment at the bottom.
The LPs have been remastered and are back in print on vinyl for the first time in 15 years. The new gatefold packaging includes never-before-seen vintage photos, as well as the original artwork and insert, all tidied up and ready to meet Mom and Dad. Free download (with one extra track) is included.