MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

The Melvins Get Weird Again with ‘Freak Puke’

Ipecac Recordings, 2012

Freak Puke, the Melvins’ eighteenth studio album, is very appropriately titled.

Their sludgy doom-metal inspired Kurt Cobain to make music in the late 1980s, and little has changed in the thirty years they’ve been a band. Freak Puke may have been recorded by “Melvins Lite” – a stripped-down version of the band’s lineup featuring guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osborne, drummer Dale Crover (a onetime Nirvana kit-man) and Trevor Dunn (of the Mike Patton project Mr. Bungle) on bass, but the music is still the same cacophonous mix of offbeat rhythms and jarring guitar tones that made them the legends they’ve become.

“Mr. Rip Off”, with its eerie bass sounds and ominous horror movie atmospherics, kicks off the record appropriately. Clocking in at nearly six minutes, its slow, dirty burn and Osborne’s howl leads right into “Inner Ear Rupture”, which sounds exactly as you’d expect – haunting, abrasive and terrifying, thanks to Dunn’s standup bass.

“Baby, Won’t You Weird Me Out” has one of the album’s best grooves, veering dangerously close to “standard song structure” – until the Melvins’ requisite irreverence comes into play once the background vocals and free-form jam take over.

Other songs, like the brilliantly-titled and erratically-paced “Worm Farm Waltz”, the full-on metal/grunge assault of “A Growing Disgust”, the Southern-fried “Leon vs. the Revolution”, and the twisting “Holy Barbarian” accelerate the strangeness.

And then…it hits you. Seemingly out of nowhere, a cover of Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Let Me Roll It” shows up as the second-to-last song. Maybe it’s the shock of hearing the Melvins give the classic tune this kind of makeover, the sequencing on the record, or Osborne’s vocal delivery, but the song is as powerful a cover as you could have hoped for it to be. It slays.

Freak Puke concludes with the sprawling, nine-minute opus “Tommy Goes Berserk”, which starts with some melodic guitar strumming before devolving into total, blissful chaos. The last five minutes or so are a whirlwind of guitar solos, drum obliteration, and an echoing sample of some crazed laughter, ostensibly the sound of the aforementioned Tommy losing his mind.

If you know what you’re getting yourself into with a Melvins record, give Freak Puke a spin. If you don’t know what to expect, that might work too. Just make sure the lights are off and you’re ready to experience some otherworldly weirdness, and you’ll be good to go.

ALBUM RATING: 4.5 Stars (out of five)


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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Adrian's love for music stemmed at an early age - but it wasn't until attending a Red Hot Chili Peppers gig in 1999 at the age of 15 that it blossomed to the all-encompassing obsession it is today. Since that fateful night in San Francisco, he has probably spent enough money on concerts to buy a few cars (not that he'd be likely to appreciate that fact). Not interested in pigeon-holing himself to one genre or type of music, he has an eclectic taste that is just as likely to make him hit up a Slayer gig as a Jack White concert. Warped Tour became a yearly pilgrimage for him in the early 2000s, immersing himself in the punk & metal world as only Warped can (for better and worse). Today, living in Los Angeles, he usually ends up going to 5-6 concerts per month, on average, which further cements his music appreciation, to the detriment of his bank account. He writes for a few different online magazines/websites, and is always hungry for new music (to the point of unhealthy obsession, some might say).

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