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The Melvins - Mangled Demos from 1983

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Artist: The Melvins

Album: Mangled Demos from 1983

Label: Ipecac

Review date: Jun. 20, 2005

After 22 years, Buzz Osbourne has seen fit to unleash the juvenilia of the Aberdeen trio’s first incarnation. That consisted of himself, Mike Dillard, drums, and future Mudhoney bassist, Matt Lukin. To be sure, a Croverless Melvins is certainly not a good thing; nor is wading through the Bad Brains and Germs fixations that the wealth of this material draws on to comprise songs.

Strangely enough, Mangled Demos offers little in the way of explaining The Melvins’ sonic evolution, or even providing a semblance of a coherent template. If anything, one’s surprised that Osbourne went on to create some truly compelling records – including three undeniable masterpieces: Bullhead (1991); Eggnog (1991); and Lysol (1992) – after being pelted with the Mangled Demos’ derivative punk schlock whose only redeemable feature is a preternatural guitar tone that the young Osbourne had to grow quickly to catch up with.

Osbourne’s early vocals are chewed like the Bad Brains’ H. R.; spat like the Germs’ Darby Crash. Drums churn; bass lines blunder in Osbourne’s relentlessly linear riffing, choosing to nose into the corner instead of leading the charge with a ponderous Dillard behind the kit. Securing Dale Crover not only worked wonders – it fucking defined The Melvins’ sound. Crover showed countless Puget mullets how to crawl through rock’s wreckage like a cockroach with a shattered back. Osbourne’s trashy riffs had to retaliate, had to regroup, and condense in this wake of never-decaying tom thunder, and cymbal shriek. Fatty, liverwurst lines loped under Crover’s punctuation: drumheads were harassed; cymbals were sledged. Thus, The Melvins was born.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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