Melvins - The Bulls and the Bees (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


The Bulls and the Bees (2012)

Scion AV Metal

Melvins are getting better and better and better and better. Since the band became a quartet six years ago, critics inside and outside Melvins fandom have complained that the band had lost its essence. If the band's new free online EP The Bulls & The Bees doesn't change the naysayers' minds, than nothing will.

The Bulls seems to function as a microcosm of the Melvins' trajectory to date. Opening with "The War on Wisdom," the band kicks out low end, energetic, massive sludge rumbling that feels as much like a heavy metal guitar as it does a rumbling tank. Of course, being the Melvins, they don't confine themselves strictly (or at all) to the tenants of sludge metal, and immediately add in weird elements such as a guitar mimicking a hand saw, abstract lyrics and group choruses that are as much metal as they are barbershop quartet.

"We are Doomed" gives a nod to the Melvins' first musical leap by dropping into a lumbering, slow drone, while vocalist Buzz Osborne wails over top. However, as with the opening track, the song is malleable and the evolution continues throughout the album. For instance, "A Really Long Wait" is more post-music concrete, about around the harmony of medieval church, giving the music both a holy ambiance and unholy menace.

Most impressive is how far the band travels in a mere five tracks. Over the course of 22 minutes, the Melivs survey their career, modify the past and go in new directions. The Melvins have always been experimental, but they have never been this compact. Is this a reaction to the economy of music? Possibly. While the band might reference bees on the title, their knack for survival against all odds makes the coach-roach seem a more fitting totem.