The Melvins – Hold It In (Album Review)


Known to play out of the box, The Melvins have always run the gamut of music in their songs, going from sludge to punk to hardcore and then back again. With a career that has spanned four decades and combined thirty plus albums, The Melvins have worked to prove that they’re not to be painted into the same corner twice, a succeeded effort, and one they have kept up with in their newest album, Hold It In, released on CD on October 14, 2014. Rallying around original members Roger “King Buzzo” Osborne (lead vocals, guitar) and Dale Crover (drums, percussion, bass, vocals), band members Jared Warren (bass, vocals) and Coady Willis (drums, vocals) shared the spotlight for Hold It In with Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary on guitar and Jeff Pinkus on bass. Having both played bass at different times for Kurt Cobain’s first band, Fecal Matter, Buzzo and Crover have been well established in the grunge music scene coming out of Aberdeen, Washington in the ’80s and ’90s, but that has never kept them pigeonholed in the flannel-wearing genre.

The album is kicked off with the screaming guitars of “Bride of Crankenstein,” a full on, balls to the wall grunge piece so heavy it practically drops through the floor. Leary makes his Melvin’s vocal debut with “You Can Make Me Wait,” giving the listener a Vocoder-tinged pop rock song that sounds like it came full and complete from a John Hughes soundtrack, with trebly chords and a New Wave flow. Named by Crover as one of his favorite tracks on the album, “Brass Cupcake” comes next. A light indie tune broken up by off-the-wall shrieking, “Brass Cupcake” is a blast to listen to. Sounding like the background music to an intense acid trip, “Barcelonian Horseshoe Pit” is a backwards sounding, off-kilter piece that flips over into something almost resembling music around the halfway mark. The heavier “Onions Make the Milk Taste Bad” sounds like Les Claypool had more than a little to do with its assemblage, with crushing guitars and browbeaten drums that melt into psychedelic, surreal vocals. “Eyes On You,” written by Leary, is a conspiracy theorist’s nightmare, filled with paranoid lyrics and chugging drums and bass that sound like the NSA is pounding at the door and they’re not taking no for an answer. The build up of “Sesame Street Meat” is fast an hard, crushing the listener under the weight of the chords, twisting the thumbscrews until the deep, scratchy vocals almost feel like a relief. “Nine Yards” is probably the punkiest song on Hold It In, with guitars wailing, bass growling and the kit slamming for the entire track. One of the longer songs on the album, “The Bunk Up” starts with a bird-like whistling that jumps right into a more metal sound with harsh, thudding vocals. Taking a trip to 1950s Sci-Fi, “I Get Along (Hollow Moon)” is a fun romp interspersed with laser gun sounds and a rockabilly guitar. The hilariously named “Piss Pisstopherson” brings the glam rock back to the Melvins with slamming, damning drums and a whammy bar that really gets a workout. The last and longest song on the album, “House of Gasoline,” breaks the twelve minute mark, drawing us along with low slung riffs and a heavy, pounding pace that flips over into wild obscurity about halfway through.

The Melvins defy labels and play what they feel from the heart, never letting any musical definition tell them what they can and can’t do. This may sound like a case of spreading oneself too thin, but The Melvins have risen to the occasion once again and given fans an amazing album not seen in quality since 2006’s (A) Senile Animal. Cryptic Rock gives Hold It In 4 our of 5 stars.


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