The Melvins – Tres Cabrones (2013)

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2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Melvins. Their 19th album Tres Cabrones is a step backwards for the band — because it marks the return of original drummer Mike Dillard, who had only appeared previously on demos and bootlegs.

In many ways, Tres Cabrones is a retrospective of the band led by singer/guitarist/founding member Buzz “King Buzzo” Osborne, as he approached his 50th birthday.

The Melvins remained a largely local phenomenon in the American Northeast — even as drummer Mike Dillard was replaced by Dale Crover, who had came from an Iron Maiden cover band. The Melvins were able to rely on a loyal fan base, which also included at one point a young Kurt Cobain. Despite many publications and an interim major deal, they were denied a big commercial breakthrough. Perhaps they were too bulky and crude to make a lasting impression on mainstream American youth. After the third Atlantic album Stag, the Melvins’ major deal ended and they switched seamlessly to an indie Amphetamine Reptile and, then, in 1999, to Mike Patton’s Ipecac Records — where they still record. Constant members are Buzz “King Buzzo” Osborne and Dale Crover, while the bassists and second guitarists seemingly come and go at will.

Tres Cabrones (Spanish for “three bastards”) arrives as a mix of classic and current Melvins sounds. Today’s three-man lineup, at least for this album, showcases every facet of the band — from classic slow punk to artistically experimental rock with associated psychedelic lyrics. As such, Tres Cabrones may not their best release, but it is the most accessible in a very long time.

Mischievous and heavy during moments like “City Dump,” “American Cow” and “Psychedelic Haze,” Tres Cabrones drifts toward sludge with tracks like “Dogs And Cattle Prods” and “I Told You I Was Crazy.” Meanwhile, “Tie My Pecker To A Tree,” “99 Bottles Of Beer” and “You’re In The Army Now” showcases their penchant for humor. Covers “Walter’s Lips” by the Lewd or “Stick ‘Em Up Bitch” from the Pop-O-Pies form a typical Melvins mix of metal grit and fun, too.

Tres Cabrones is certainly nothing that they have not done before, but the Melvins don’t have anything to prove at this point. They have already reached a cult status where it’s no longer necessary to woo new fans. In short, the new album is what it is and it does what it does: namely, great and loud rock music for a devoted, if unjustly small, group of life-long fans.

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Mike Dostert

Mike Dostert

Luxembourg resident Mike Dostert has written about music for more than two decades, with work appearing in a local newspaper, via his own independent music magazine and at the web sites www.music-brain.com and lux-culture.jimdo.com. He has also worked for 20 years as a DJ and radio host. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mike Dostert
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