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The Fantomas/Melvins Big Band - Millenium Monsterwork 2000

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Artist: The Fantomas/Melvins Big Band

Album: Millenium Monsterwork 2000

Label: Ipecac

Review date: May. 7, 2002

No shit, I think my head almost exploded when I heard of this collaborative project between the veritable sludge-rock institution that is the Melvins, and Mike Patton's oddball metal project Fantomas (which features head Melvin "King" Buzzo Osbourne on guitar). A quick personal history, if I may: my friend Rocky blew my mind when he turned me on to both Ozma and Gluey Porch Treatments when I was fourteen, two of the Melvin's earlier albums that gave me the heads up that Kurt Cobain, in fact, never attained the same status as his Pacific Northwest idols/friends did in terms of sonic sludginess. As for Mike Patton, well, once I figured out that there was more to the man than that video where the goldfish flops around and someone trashes a piano, and that he did, in fact, like to freak out, I was hooked on Mr. Bungle as well.

That being said, I can't help but think Millennium Monsterwork 2000 is a bit of a disappointment. Here I was expecting an album full of wacked out stoner-sludge freak-out jams, and instead I get a live disc that splits both men and their influences straight down the middle. That was kind of upsetting. But set aside any expectations of hearing metal rewritten before your ears, and this disc turns out to be worth the time for fans of either project. On December 31, 2000 both bands convened to play a show together in California, and this is the end result. The septet tears through Melvins classics like "Night Goat" and "Hooch", adding more layers of grime to the guitar, more pounding thuds to the drums (courtesy of the dual attack of Dale Crover and Dave Lombardo), and of course, the wicked oddity of Patton's backing vocals. The band also takes on versions of thriller themes (different versions of which would appear on the second Fantomas record) like "The Omen" and "Cape Fear". These are good too, but it's when the band(s) stray from Melvins territory that the major problem from this disc comes to light - it sounds pretty much like a Mike Patton project in and of its own. I'm of the mindset that if you're going to collaborate with the Melvins, you should let them do what they do best - you should let Osbourne channel his Sabbath-damaged riffs, and you should let Dale Crover beat the shit out of his drums. Forget trying to work them into the framework of an already existing project. Don't get me wrong - a lot of the more obvious Patton pieces are quite good, definitely on par with anything Fantomas has done thus far. Tracks like "Cholo Charlie", "Terpulative Guns & Drugs", and "Ripping Chicken Meat" bask in careening vocal insanity with shards of rock from a speed metal train-wreck thrown in for good measure.

For Mike Patton fans, this record is probably indispensable, full of all the goods that make the oddball rocker so worth following. Fans of the Melvins only would be better off skipping this one, maybe instead going for their own live record they released a couple years back. And those of you expecting some magnificent opus of sludge-meets-art-rock-doom-metal-mayhem, well, check your expectations at the door before you proceed any further with this one. Overall this disc is worth checking out, but the poor sound quality and overall one-sidedness of the affair prevent it from being anything more than a fairly decent live document.

By Michael Crumsho

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