MELVINS drop a weird noisy 2024 vintage with “Tarantula Heart”.

Written by Album Review, Chronique

The Melvins are back even though they never really left. What’s new for the 2024 version? A new line-up, obviously. For the last two decades, the band has used line-up rotations as the main source of inspiration and lately, it has worked like a charm, as demonstrated on the excellent “Working With God” released in 2021.

This time, we get treated to the “Melvins Big Band” on “Tarantula Heart”. To the indestructible pair formed by Buzz & Dale on guitars/vocals and drums/backing vocals, they added Roy Mayorga (HellYeah, Stone Sour, ex-Soulfly), to add even more drums (the real fans know that for at least 20 years the best albums of the Melvins have two drummers on them!), Steven plays bass as he has done for several years already, finally, the line-up is completed by Gary Chester (WE are the Asteroids) on guitars. This lineup is not the only originality on this record. Here, we are confronting the most experimental side of the Melvins with super long tracks, noise explorations sometimes extending well over the ten-minute mark and all of this with a rather unexpected jam dimension. Fellow lovers of dissonance and weirdness, welcome to the land of dreams, slightly messed up dreams but dreams nonetheless.

The album opens with the colossal, 20-minute “Pain Equals Funny”. If a few riffs give a backbone to the song, it is mostly a journey to the frontier of unleashed industrial noise. “Pain Equals Funny” takes us by the hand with an almost classic introduction before moving further into feedback and noise for a brilliant and irritating rendering. So, for once, the song title isn’t so enigmatic.

“Working The Ditch” delivers an almost post-metal version of the Melvins thanks to more guitar and drums providing more density, layers and thickness to the usual sound of the combo. Oh my, does it sound good! The guitar leads are also a little more present than before. With “She’s got weird arms”, we dive into pure madness. Has Tahiti Bob finally replaced Buzz? In any case, the song offers us a trip full of dissonance which segues perfectly with the jungle/drum and bass intro of “Allergic to Food”, the latter reminiscing us of the dirty and crazy productions of dawn from the 90’s. As a reward for going through this dream on acid, we are treated to a more gruff, more conventional Melvins, finally enjoying the band’s typical riffs on “Smiler” as a closure for the album. You behaved well, hey, here’s a sticky star!

So where does this record fit on the Buzz-o scale? I say it often, no one can be a fan of EVERYTHING the Melvins do and in the same way no one can be indifferent to everything the Melvins do. They offer so many variations of their sound, without ever losing their sonic identity, that there is bound to be (in one of their more than 30 albums, EPs, splits etc.) something that will satisfy you. With “Tarantula Heart”, the Melvins aim at those who love experiments and illusions worthy of a contemporary art museum in the suburbs of Berlin. Here, fans of big riffs à la Houdini / Stoner Witch will be disoriented, early fans who like garage, proto-sludge and DIY punk will not find what they are looking for either.

It’s a bolder offering and one that will only resonate with a minority of fans. But it’s another cornerstone in a long discography and one of those strange offerings that fans of Mr Chucky’s laugh and crazy hair will keep discussing in 10 or 15 years. It might not be an album you’ll get back to regularly, but it’s a one-off experience you have to live at least once if you enjoy the work of this monument of noise rock.

ARTIST: Melvins
ALBUM: Tarantula Heart
RELEASED: 19 April 2024
LABEL: Ipecac Recordings
GENRE: Noise / experimental metal
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Last modified: 17 April 2024