Album Review

Chad W. Lutz
Screaming brides, god’s of war, chanting, electric flowers, and a guarantee from the band that you’ll never make it out alive. For their 20th studio album the band known as The Melvins had some work to do. Not many bands ever reach this feat, let alone build on any sort of minimal success. It almost takes a sort of rare breed; a diamond in the rough, if you will, for a band to ever reach this kind of plateau and actually sustain enough popularity to even be given the chance to record a 20th album. But The Melvins got this shot, and here are the results.

Released June 1, 2010 on Ipecac Recordings, The Bride Screamed Murder reached the Billboard Top 200 shortly after its release, marking the first Top 200 appearance in the band’s 26-year career. This is The Melvin’s 8th release on the California-based label, solidifying the band in the land of record label hodgepodge-dom after releasing on nine different recording labels throughout their career.

The Bride, consisting of nine tracks, features a variety of sounds but sticks to its Seattle grunge roots. The band, originally from Seattle, is supposed to have had ties with Nirvana before they took the nation by dirty sweater storm. Krist Novoselic was actually their photographer for the 1986 release Six Songs. And although they moved away before the Grunge scene set in, their influence has been heard throughout many of the great bands that came out of Seattle in the early 1990’s.

From beginning to end the album is an ode to the heavy metal grunge scene, but throws in a mix of classic guitar riffs and occasionally some psychedelic undertones. Droning static, incredibly creepy countdowns, relentless chanting, heavy harmonies and, well, heavy metal round out The Bride’s sound. From the opening riff you know this album was set out to seek and destroy. The call and response in the first song “The Water Glass” (4:16) best exemplifies the kind of music you’re getting yourself into in space-baring this album on iTunes. The call? Are you ready? To which the response is most enthusiastically, “We are ready, ready, ready.” No sympathy for the brain.

As if to the march of soldiers, founding drummer Dale Crover, along with 2006 addition Coady Willis thunder through the album, creating time signatures and sounds that remind the ear of Tool’s double bass pedal virtuoso Danny Carey, which really isn’t all that surprising since Tool’s lead guitarist, Adam Jones, has been long associated with The Melvins themselves.

At a modest forty-five minutes long, the nine track album features songs that vary in length, ranging anywhere between 3:04 (“Inhumanity and Death”) and the almost eight minute “My Generation?” (7:39), both songs being back to back.

The Melvins have been around the block, to say the absolute least. They’ve seen the Challenger explode, the fall of the Berlin Wall, acid wash jeans, jerry curls, just about every version of Michael Jackson, and the creation of the Internet. It’s hard for a band to stick around that long without having some sort of gravity in the music world. The Bride Screamed Murder gives long time fans something to get excited about and those just wandering through the Melvins’ doors a warm welcome. But if you’re not into the metal scene, this album probably won’t be blasting out of your Prius anytime soon.