Melvins / OFF! - Sugar Daddy Split Series Vol. 3 [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Melvins / OFF!

Sugar Daddy Split Series Vol. 3 [12-inch] (2012)

Amphetamine Reptile

An exercise in excess, this split represents the third in a series of 13 split 12-inches between the Melvins and their friends, past and present. But, in the age of entitlement and easy illegal downloading, the physical product itself is an excess, so why not go full steam into decadence. Indeed, it truly is Melvins-ish that just as the music industry is at its most severe ebb, they utilize a tool from its height, the famed 12-inch single, a format that says, "This song is so important that it gets its own side of a 12-inch!" But, if anything, the approach does show that bands like the Melvins and OFF! value each one of their songs, and that little to nothing is released as sonic chewing gum. Rather, every song, every note has importance in these catalogs.

As with the other releases in the series, the Melvins' side is a single track taken from 2011's live album, Sugar Daddy. Here, "A Civilized Worm" is represented. But, unlike its studio counterpart from (A) Senile Animal, here, the respective parts of the song are broken into distinctive sections. Where the song used to flow from its charging section to its drone, to the final drum solo, here there is a noticeable change in parts. This shows the rawness and refinement of Melvins' performance. While the song is rooted in the band's sludgy base, the sections show us how far the band can stretch that sound. The first section charges ahead with a thrashy rumble, only to drop to a whirring drone in the midsection. Finally, the band pauses for half a second and snaps into a John Bonham-ish drum solo.

In doing so, the members show how much they love thick, heavy classic rock, but also how they seem influenced by the Classical masters, drawing songs into a series of movements, rather than three minutes structured around a single riff. But, while the song is jagged, the Melvins' dedication to performance and execution is evident. While the band breaks apart on the upstroke, it snaps together on the strike, creating a rapid, rumbling tank of sound. The Melvins live have evolved into something faster, louder, and more tactical. Truly, they have become battle-wizened and battle-hardened.

The OFF! side is exclusive to this release. "No Reason to Complain" is a cover of the regional garage rock band the Alarm Clocks. Similar to their cover of ID's "Rotten Apple" off their Compared to What seven-inch, the band takes a good time jangler and jacks it up 500 percent into a raging slammer. In cutting the song's running time in half, the band creates an interesting contrast with what was there before. Where it seems the Alarm Clocks' version was to be taken at face value, when OFF! frontman Keith Morris screams in an anguished voice "I'VE GOT NO REASON TO COMPLAIN," it definitely seems that he's not saying what he feels inside, somewhat echoing Iggy's famous "I FEEL ALRIGHT!" from "1970." As a forecast for OFF!'s upcoming studio LP, the band still kicks out their songs in brutish, energetic notes, but it seems that the members are getting wilder and fiercer. Guitarist Dimitri Coates seems no longer content to simply smash out three chords. He is now stringing twisted bends and sharp edges on the outskirts of the notes, giving the actual music a deeper, more vicious edge.

Both the members of Melvins and OFF! have traversed a great deal of musical landscape in decades of recording. For both bands, it seems that the most interesting, and most dangerous music is yet to come.