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Houdini

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Album Review

To essay a concise, surefooted summation of the Melvins' catalog would be reductive at best, and laughable at worst. This is, of course, underground rock's trio of pranksters — unpredictable and capable of complete musical about-faces in the turn of a measure. That said, Houdini is about as close as one gets to a representative Melvins album, and it vividly captures the band's unreconstructed power, vision, and musical strangeness. During the early-'90s purge of hair rock and candy-footed funk metal, the Melvins, as with many other acts, seemed fair game for a major label in search of another post-Nirvana gold mine. With Kurt Cobain's assistance, the band was snatched up — and summarily dropped (after three brilliant albums, this being the first) — by Atlantic. Though Houdini's immediate predecessors, Eggnog and Bullhead, pried open a few screwball chasms in the Melvins' syrupy distillation of Sabbath riffage and Flipper's noisy anti-punk, it was this album that displayed the full fruition of the outfit's sonic breadth, from the cough-syrup river drag of "Night Goat" to the revved-up "Honey Bucket," and from the creepy "Joan of Arc" to the glue-damaged "Sky Pup." Ringleader King Buzzo's riffs are stretched — taffy-like — to meltdown, and at other times they are razor sharp. Either way, they abound with a lumbering, lurching power. With their voluminous output and determination to continuously expand their sound regardless of musical trends, the Melvins oeuvre has begun to rival — at least on paper — the career arcs of Frank Zappa and Neil Young.

Customer Reviews

A Genuine Classic

This was my intro to the Melvins back in 1993 and it's still my favorite. Dark. Sludgy. Gooey. Heavy. And that's just the first song. In the grunge era there was nothing like the Melvins and there's been nothing like them since. Some would say this was their most commercial effort and it probably is but that doesn't mean it's not great, so why not start here? Classic.

Must own

At times you might think what the hell am I listening to, but from the moment you hear the first beat of the drums, you will be sucked into an album that is rare to come across.

Biography

Formed: 1985 in Aberdeen, WA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Melvins were the first post-punk band to revel in the slow, sludgy sounds of Black Sabbath. Their music is oppressively slow and heavy, only without any of the silly mystical lyrics or the indulgent guitar solos; it's just one massive, oozing pile of dark slime. The Melvins' first record was released in 1987; they've released many albums since then, but it wasn't until 1993 that they went to a major label, thanks to their protégé, Kurt Cobain. While some may find the Melvins dull and repetitious,...
Full Bio
Houdini, Melvins
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