Keeping up with the Melvins' catalog is a full-time job. Since their debut LP in 1987, the Washington state band has released more than two dozen studio albums, another 20 or so EPs and a dozen live records. In the past decade alone there have been 20 releases bearing the Melvins name. So which ones are worth hearing?

It depends on what you want from the group. There are tossed-off records like 2021's Five Legged Dog, an acoustic covers set of songs from their past as well as cuts from other artists; randomly disassembled and reconstructed, but still relatively straightforward, albums like Working With God, from the same year; and times where the band in full experimental mode, such as the 2001 live record Colossus of Destiny, which consisted of two untitled tracks, one running almost an hour, the other lasting five seconds.

The Melvins heard on their 27th album, Tarantula Heart, finds them returning to experimental territory. Bandleader Buzz Osborne noted songs were constructed using basic jam sessions that were later formed into more concrete pieces. The result is a record that sounds unhinged at its core but eventually reveals the mad thinking behind the process.

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With five songs running at little more than a total of 43 minutes, Tarantula Heart unloads its longest and most deceivingly unwieldy track at the start. "Pain Equals Funny" clocks in at almost 21 minutes, building toward a larger purpose and nearly reaching the liftoff stage during the song's final third. It's quite a setup for the album and undoubtedly an intimidating one for less-seasoned bands. Melvins get there without breaking a sweat.

Osborne leads the band - this time featuring Ministry drummer Roy Mayorga and guitarist Gary Chester from Austin psych-rockers We Are the Asteroid - through some of the most rhythmic tracks of their nearly four-decade career. But chaotic noise rock remains Melvins' Priority No.1. "Working the Ditch" and "Allergic to Food" play loose with a familiar template, albeit one with additional muscle thanks to a second drummer. This many years on, Melvins are still finding new ways to display their venerable sludge.

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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff

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