The Melvins ‘Basses Loaded’ Review: doom metal legends showcase their four-string collaborators on rocking new release.
The Melvins continue to be the biggest workaholics in rock and roll. The sludge metal giants are back with Basses Loaded (Ipecac Recordings), their seventh(!) album this decade.
Whereas most Melvins’ album titles are gleefully obtuse, Basses Loaded is a perfect descriptor: while the creative nucleus of the band remains vocalist/guitarist Buzz Osborne and drummer Dale Crover, they’ve featured a high rotation of bassists over their storied career.
And Basses Loaded is a vertical four-string sampler, featuring six bassists that have played with them over the years, including Steve McDonald (Redd Kross), Jeff Pinkus (Butthole Surfers), Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle/Fantomas), Jared Warren (Big Business) and Crover, himself, along with a guest appearance from Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic.
And this unique approach allows for one of their most multifaceted releases in recent memory.
Things kick off with McDonald on The Decay of Lying, a brooding Sabbath-style bruiser, full of ominous atmosphere and tectonic groove. McDonald holds the biggest presence on the disc contributing on three other tracks: I Want To Tell You, which nods to his glam roots (and features standout vocals from Osborne), while Hideous Woman and War Pussy (you gotta love these titles) are lurching hardcore slammers.
Jared Warren appears on Choco Plumbing a pummeling beast of a song, where his bottom-end ably assists Osborne’s crunching riff and Crover’s automaton beats, while Captain Comedown (featuring Pinkus) is delightfully trippy, adding a touch of prog to their stark template.
Planet Destructo takes a jazzy left turn, fitting given Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn is at the helm, using his stand-up bass to disorienting effect.
Maybe I Am Amused, featuring Novoselic is perhaps the first combo of stoner rock and zydeco, with a demented accordion added for good measure.
The weirdest moments however, occur when Crover picks up the four-string, leaving drummer duties to former member Mike Dillard. Beer Hippie is a loopy churner, Phyllis Dillard is a punishing swampy throwdown, and Shaving Cream is a Ween-esque lark, a surreal lullaby melody full of poop jokes and whackadoo vocals.
Things end with the immortal sports anthem Take Me Out To The Ballgame, which shows the other meaning behind the album title, with chain-gang stadium vocals and quirky synths celebrating the national pastime.
In a press release for Basses Loaded, Osborne stated: As hard as it might be to believe, all of these bass players contribute something of their own to Basses Loaded which gives the whole album a good kick right in it’s big fat ass.
And that’s the end-result of this engaging affair, filled with enough bottom-end diversity to showcase The Melvins in all their demented earth-shaking glory.