Release Date: 26th February 2021
Label: Ipecac Recordings
For Fans Of: Eyehategod, Sleep, Kyuss
When asked the reasoning behind the title of their new album Working With God, Melvins explained it was because they felt it was time to get right with the lord. Following a long career of playing devil music peppered with sardonic lyricism, could this be a real turning point for the band, embracing the Almighty? After a quick look through the track listing and seeing how many songs feature the word ‘fuck’ in the title, it’s pretty safe to say Buzz Osbourne and the gang aren’t gonna be singing about their love of Jesus.
Technically released under the Melvins 1983 moniker, Working With God reunites the trio of founding members, with original drummer rejoining Osbourne and Dale Crover. As such, one expects the record to be written with a sense of nostalgia driving the process, harking back to the sound the three-piece helped create – and you’d be right. Providing a hefty dose of grungy, sludge laden grooves, with a sprinkling of juvenile humour to boot, Melvins have proven to the naysayers (if there are any) that they’ve still got riffs for days.
Opening track ‘Fuck Around’ sees the band tackle a Beach Boys classic, albeit with an ever so slight change of lyrics (you probably won’t even notice it). Lyricism aside, one may wonder why a band so far into their career have included a cover song on their latest studio release, let alone making it the opening track, but this surely sets the tone of not only what to expect from the record, but the band themselves. Having already won the praise of critics, peers and legions of fans, Melvins no longer need to push the boundaries as they once did. Working With God demonstrates that the band, much like Miss Lauper, just want to have fun. This is confirmed when exploring the lyricism across the rest of the album, as well as the music itself. Interlude tracks vary from unsettling, dissonant circus music to full on screaming, while the track ‘Fuck You’ sounds like a breezy hybrid between Weezer and a 1960s sitcom theme tune (minus the swearing, of course).
But despite the fun and games present, Working With God boasts a myriad of heavy tracks. Ranging from slow doom marches that could easily have been penned by Toni Iommi, to faster numbers that wouldn’t be out of place on a Cancer Bats record, the band’s 24th (!!!) album is far from boring. One of the more overtly doom metal tracks, ‘Hot Fish’, could be considered somewhat monotonous, were it not for the John Zorn inspired trumpets that underlie the riffing, indicating that the band are always looking for ways to crank up the weird factor, even in their less silly songs. The equally heavy number (and album highlight) ‘Bouncing Rick’ sees Osbourne’s vocals bounce between Papa Emeritus style snarls, complete with heavy doses of chorus, and a Neil Fallon croon.
Considering the lengthy and diverse list of bands brought to mind when listening to Working With God, one is reminded of just how far reaching the influence of the band has become. With most of the aforementioned bands’ careers starting long after Melvins, it’s easy to forget that a lot of modern sludge, doom and grunge bands wouldn’t be making the music they do were it not for the Washington trio. While this latest release may not have reinvented the wheel, or even rival some of their more acclaimed earlier releases, it is still a solid addition to a career many would deem legendary. Fair play to the band if they just want to have fun while making music – you’re going to have fun while listening.
Recommended Tracks: Bouncing Rick, Caddy Daddy, Boy Mike
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