Melvins – ‘A Walk With Love & Death’ (Ipecac Recordings) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Nev Brooks   
Monday, 28 August 2017 04:00

Melvins artworkIt is often said that confession is good for the soul, so here goes… I have never owned or even listened to a Melvins album! I may have heard the odd tune but, in general, their fuzzed-up punky sludginess has never really assaulted my ears. Which is both amazing and a disgrace, considering their influence pervades throughout my record collection! But, all that changes with ‘A Walk With Love & Death’ - a double album no less, with 23 tracks to digest, in two distinct halves, ‘Death’ and ‘Love’. I approach it with fresh ears and no small amount of trepidation.


The ‘Death’ side shows the Melvins uncompromising style from the off with the two longest tracks on the album: ‘Black Heath’, with its gentle acoustic, almost trippy riff that still has an air of sludge to it, followed up with ‘Sober-Delic (Acid Only)’ with a similar gentle sludge feel but a little rockier. The heavy distorted doom riff of ‘Euthanasia’ crawls along before things go in a lighter punky pop direction with ‘What’s Wrong With You?’, very reminiscent of bassist Steve McDonald’s other band, Redd Kross.


‘Edgar The Elephant’ starts slowly but builds up the intensity as the song goes on, highlighting the vocal melodies the band manage to incorporate throughout all the songs. ‘Flaming Creatures’ is the heaviest track here, a slow chugging stoner doom riff with some excellent bass runs and howling feedback. It also includes a part of a riff I’ve heard on a My Dying Bride album! ‘Christ Hammer’ has a gentle melodic meandering riff with a fuzzy trippy solo, very late 80’s alt rock in style. There is a distinct southern vibe to ‘Cactus Party’, probably the most rock’n’roll song here. ‘Cardboa Negro’ finishes the ‘Death’ side in a fine slow and brooding fashion.


Upon my first listen to the ‘Love’ side of the album, I was very disappointed by the rambling collection of what could best be described as musical interludes or intermissions, no real songs as such. Electronic noises with feedback guitars, distorted conversations and all manner of weirdness that make Al Jourgensen seem sane! I subsequently discovered that these tracks are the soundtrack to a short film, but listening again with that knowledge didn’t improve the listening experience.


An undoubted game of two halves, the first nine songs that make up the ‘Death’ side are excellent and make me want to discover more: after all there is no shortage of material out there. The other 14 tracks on ‘Love’, though, just don’t work in the context of this release: keep it to a single album and it would be killer. There again, that’s part of what makes the Melvins the band they are: unpredictable and uncompromising.


My soul does indeed feel better after such an admission, although the same won’t be said about my bank balance, as there is a vast back catalogue to raid, good stuff!


‘A Walk With Love & Death’ is out now. You can get you copy HERE.


Catch the Melvins on tour with Redd Kross in October. They play:


Monday 9 October – Bristol, Exchange

Tuesday 10 October – Leeds, Brudenell

Wednesday 11 October – Glasgow, SWG3

Thursday 12 October – Manchester, Gorilla

Friday 13 October – Birmingham, Institute 2


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