This Is Circus Heavy Metal
Written by Dave Mulcrone
For King Buzzo, Dale Crover and original drummer Mike Dillard, it's 'time to get right with the lord' by summoning the 1983 incarnation of the Melvins once again, as they reflect upon their goofy innocence and joyful youth on Working With God. Following 2013's Tres Cabrones, we are thrown once more into the weird and farcical world of the Alt-Grunge oddballs.
The absurdity of the explicit Beach Boys cover opening the record is so daft it's slightly unnerving, but seems to work as a good indication of what to expect. Three tracks on Working with God are just as foul-mouthed as they are foolish; I Fuck Around and the two-part delicately named Fuck You, which involves a rendition of Harry Nilsson's 1972 hit You're Breaking My Heart followed by a 10 second interlude of the band shrieking in complete disarray. As Billy Connolly once put it, 'fuck off doesn't mean go away, fuck off means fuck... off...'. King Buzzo sounds tetchy and pissed off, but is able to channel it through a wicked sense of humour that is interwoven with colossal riffs and meticulous song-writing skills.
The press statement released with this record claims Working With God is the type of album that bands like Green Day, Metallica and the Foo Fighters would be able to put out only if they had the necessary guts required to do so. Gutsy as Working With God is, it's too self-aware and cynical to be compared to Stadium Rock's Royalty. The Melvins have never made any compromises as a band, they won't be playing arenas and having hit singles any time soon, and they really don't seem to care. They show an uncanny ability to entertain you and laugh in your face simultaneously, revelling in the semi-arrogant mockery of all things serious.
The paranoid thought that you are being severely trolled by Melvins 1983 is abruptly rebutted on the second track Negative No No. Possibly the best riff you've heard all year, in 9/4 time, this gigantic guitar showcase is reminiscent of the classic sludge-punk swagger of the Melvins at their most heavy and powerful. The following tracks Bouncing Rick and Caddy Daddy are equal in intensity and doom-infused ferocity. This is circus heavy metal. Blending the absurdity of Zappa and Captain Beefheart with hardcore punk and Sabbath inspired arena-rock guitar riffs, the Melvins have always stood out amongst their contemporaries, as being the misfits of the heavy metal party. Too experimental for metal-heads and too heavy for punks, they stand alone as being just as incomparable as they are wacky and daringly consistent.
Brian, the Horse Faced Goon is a perfect example of the bands seamless ability to mix their ridiculously immature sense of humour with powerful, well-crafted rock tunes. Boy Mike and Hund show the band flexing their punk muscles, and they sound just as loud and intense as Big Business-era Melvins; not a bad effort for a three piece using a drummer who isn't a career musician and Crover switching to bass duties. Dillard has a simple and effective role to play on Working with God, and alongside Crover they provide a solid foundation for Buzz's unorthodox and quirky guitar attacks.
They bid farewell with a rather sweet rendition of Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight. No matter how obvious it is that their tongues are firmly in their cheeks, maybe the Melvins are showing us their honest, caring and loving nature. Maybe not though. Somehow, zero-fucks and multiple-fucks are equally given on this album. They don't sound at all jaded or out of ideas, this is a solid effort, with some of the best tunes the Melvins have produced in years; after all the fucking around has been put to one side.