Words by Russell Carstens

Here we have one of the most suitable pairings imaginable: The Butthole Surfers and Melvins. Paul Leary (guitar) and Jeff Pinkus (bass) have joined King Buzzo‘s gang of demented metalheads for Hold It In, out October 14th via Ipecac Records. It sounds like the group enjoyed themselves making the album. As expected, it’s noisy, obnoxious (at times), and awesome. And if you don’t dig it, they probably don’t give a hoot.

On the opener “Bride of Crankenstein” traditional Melvins riffing is confetti-sprinkled with sound effects. A twisted, minor key guitar solo by Leary sounds like it was played by one of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas characters.

At the heart of “You Can Make Me Wait” is a wonderfully jarring transition from a Neil Young-esque riff into a swirling, phase-soaked verse with un-discernable vocals—a colorful blend of Pixies’ spaced-out Trompe Le Monde and Young’s electronic experiment Trans. Although you can’t make out a darn thing lyrically, the sound is undeniably pleasant, mirroring the vague but heavenly effect of the best shoegaze music out there with a triumphant and beautiful lead guitar. This unexpected (even for this pairing) beauty deserves to be put on repeat.

A new wave/surf-rock rhythm dominates “Brass Cupcake.” It may be closest thing the Melvins or Surfers have done to a pop song, even if you count “It’s Shoved” from Melvins album Bullhead. Morphing into a hip/hop-industrial-metal sandwich halfway through, cricket-like sounds fade the song out. Reverse tape effects and muted cymbal swells introduce “Barcelonian Horseshoe Pit”, followed by Dale Crover’s signature wallop. The vocals? They appear to have been sung by someone under the influence of LSD who overindulged and stared at themselves in a mirror for too long. Think of this one as an audio haunted house or horror show.

The bouncy and upbeat “Eyes On You” appears to feature the Muppet Babies on gang vocals. Not a problem, though. After all, reviewer Mark Prindle once compared Osbourne’s vocals to that of an “angry muppet.” He sings, “I hope you don’t mind, I’ve got my eyes on you.” It’s a flattering remark, but when his tone is considered, whoever is on the receiving end may be a little unnerved. The short punk/noise blast of “Nine Yards” is carried by chunky distorted bass that could have found a home on the Surfers’ self-titled debut EP. As the album closes out, the diversity continues on “I Get Along (Hollow Moon)” — a punk/country number which gets spooky and spacey, sounding like Halloween on…well…the moon.

It doesn’t sound like much thought was put into the twelve-minute closer “House of Gasoline”. It begins with a recycled riff from Melvins’ Stoner Witch album, but the drum looped and tin can-filtered outro could perhaps have been left out. As usual, Osbourne never runs out of twists and turns in his playing, which keep the album so much more interesting than those made by other “heavy” bands. Overall, neither the Surfers or Melvins can do no wrong, so anything that Hold It In leaves to be desired can be forgiven. Perhaps a little more Surfers and a little less Melvins could have balanced this affair out for some improvement, but overall, it’s a blast.

The Melvins
‘Hold It In’
Ipecac Records
© October 14th, 2014



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