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Stoner Witch

Melvins

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Album Review

The early to mid-'90s proved the Melvins' golden age, and the three principal albums from that period — Stoner Witch provides the centerpiece — are virtually unassailable in their range, depth, power, and experimental courage. Picking up on the basic framework of Houdini, Stoner Witch resolves into an ear-catching workup of classic rock themes, tempered, of course, with a fairly judicious sampling of acid-trip detours. Where Houdini resided more in an expansive — though lugubriously heavy — metal vein, refining the techniques built up through the band's early struggles, Stoner Witch truly showcases the band at the apex of their wide-ranging creative abilities. The melodies — yes, melodies — work seamlessly with the ubiquitous chugging riffs; Buzzo's vocals, often reminiscent of a David Thomas (Pere Ubu) after a few weeks of no-nonsense boot camp, are sometimes quiet and reflective, and more often than not, positively Stentorian. And naturally, drummer Dale Crover's percussion and pounding behind the kit is astonishing, powerful, and daring. The album opens with the distorted thud of "Skweetis," the amps and cymbals washing well into red-line territory before yielding to a three-count of heavy-duty classic rock with "Queen," "Sweet Willy Rollbar," and "Revolve." From that point on, there is a deliberate sea-change, beginning with the faux-lounge tweaking of "Goose Freight Train," the nearly unlistenable Merzbow-noise of "Magic Pig Detective," and ultimately the hammer-down hardcore of "June Bug" sandwiched between two ambient tracks: "Shevil" and the album closer, "Lividity."

Biography

Formed: 1985 in Aberdeen, WA

Genre: Alternative

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....
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Stoner Witch, Melvins
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