The Melvins, ‘Hold It In’ – Album Review
Since the Melvins first made themselves known in the mid '80s, one thing is for certain: The band has never been lacking heavy riffage. With the better part of 30 years behind them, and over 20 albums to their credit, 'Hold It In' proves they are far from finished assaulting and entertaining.
On 'Hold It In,' mainstays King Buzzo and Dale Crover are joined by guitarist Paul Leary, on loan from the Butthole Surfers. Leary adds some of his personality here, making for a nice addition to all things Melvin.
The album grinds into gear with the suitably heavy 'Bride of Crankenstein,' a Black Sabbath-born riff monster that not only fulfills any promises made from earlier Melvins releases, but puts an exclamation point on that particular sentence. The doomy riff is somehow able to sound both vintage and fresh at the same time as the band pummels ahead. An abrupt change of pace slips in next, however, with the decidedly poppy 'You Can Make Me Wait,' that has some sweet soaring, and at times, almost jangly guitars carrying the weight. The vocals are put through the effects tray to good measure, and don't run and hide, but melody is front and center on this one, at times sounding, dare we say, like Eno circa 'Here Come the Warm Jets' with a dash of Neil Young mixed in.
The album's first single, 'Brass Cupcake' is up next and keeps on the more 'pop' side of things. At times sounding like a crash involving the Cars and Flipper, it is both infectious and unexpected in its downright catchiness. This gives way to 'Barcelonian Horseshoe,' which is, in simple terms, a freaked out mess! We mean that as a compliment by the way.
'Onions Make the Milk Taste Bad' dives back into heavy riff territory initially, but then it too has its own hazy glaze of weirdness -- Blue Cheer are smiling somewhere. Not many bands can pull off this kind of back and forth without it sounding forced; things here never sound anything but natural.
'Eyes On You' is a primal, garage rocker. In some ways, this is everything the Black Keys would like to be, but the Melvins outshine that aesthetic here. An appropriately simple, yet highly effective guitar solo is the icing on the cake.
Who else would name a song 'Sesame Street Meat?' The song title alone should win fans, but the stock in trade, maybe even grunge-y, heaviness is what the fans will be smiling most about. Those guitars sound like they are tuned even lower than usual.
'Nine Yards' is a straight ahead rocker that manages to pile everything into just over two minutes worth of guttural noise. 'The Bunk Up' employs yet more heavyweight riffage that casually falls apart into some nice psychedelic overtones midway through its seven minute run, before rebuilding itself in dramatic fashion. With 'I Get Along (Hollow Moon)' we are back in garageland for another raver. This time out, rockabilly by way of the Cramps, is at the core and, no surprise, it works very well.
'Piss Pisstopherson' is a sleazy, grooving rocker with some very cool guitar work going on. What's Buzz singing about? We're not sure, but does it matter? We're not sure about that either. It's really more about feel, and in this case, it works just fine. 'House Of Gasoline' ends things on a blistering note, for a moment or two anyway. Guitars attack, then quickly dive bomb into a 12-minute-plus mess. Chaos, white noise, ambiance and various sound effects take over as the guys ride out into the sunset.
The Melvins are no strangers to mixing things up, and they prove that again on 'Hold It In.' While the band's identity is clearly stamped here, it works on a variety of levels and will, almost certainly, appeal to fans and non-believers alike.