Sludge. Proto-Grunge. Progressive Mud. Melvins.
Since 1983 these fine folks from Washington State have been throwing a rusty wrench into the rock and roll machine. Singer/ guitarist Buzz Osbourne and drummer Dale Crover comprise the remaining original members of the Melvins, who are credited with being the “Godfathers of Grunge”. It has been said that Buzz (also known as King Buzzo) introduced a young Kurt Cobain to punk rock.
Early on, the band was known for playing at slow tempos, like Black Sabbath slowed waaaay down. Osbourne’s vocals on earlier recordings are quite reminiscent of the Other Osbourne, also. Fifteen some-odd years later find the Melvins speeding up occasionally.
Three years ago I was passing thru Nashville on a night off. At the Thai restaurant we found a newspaper, revealing the fact that the Melvins were playing at the Exit/Inn that night. (!!!!!!!!) We were stoked. The show was Loud. Precise. I put my earplugs in, sat in the back, and let it wash over me. The band, by now with two drummers (Crover and Coady Willis) was dead-on tight. I rarely enjoy groups with two drum-kits, but these gents were well choreographed. The songs were riff-rock anthems. Since I had earplugs in, the high volume was quite enjoyable. After a while, I started feeling like a little kid. Innocent. New. I’m not sure why, it just seemed that there was a purity to the music, free of any contrivance or commercial consideration. By this time, Osbourne’s vocals had fallen into a more guttural range, somewhat reminiscent of Metallica’s James Hetfield. On the most recent disc, there are a lot of vocal harmonies in parallel 5ths, lending an otherworldly quality to the sound.
These guys have been a major influence on bands such as: Tool, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Green River and Pearl Jam. Even Gene Simmons of Kiss played with them at Lollapalooza in 93 and 94. They are Rock Royalty… the kings behind the scene.
They still do gigs. Check ’em out. Take earplugs.