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Melvins | Hostile Ambient Takeove | review | rock | Lollipop


Hostile Ambient Takeover (Ipecac)
by Brian Varney

Melvins fandom requires a very special sort. You must be willing to endure contempt from the band you're paying to see/hear, willing to wade through minutes, songs, and entire albums of dicking around before getting what you want, and, above all, you must never lose faith.

All of which is why I'm sitting at my computer, clad in a Stoner Witch tee shirt, playing the new Melvins disc at near-sonic boom volume in spite of the fact that fully half of the four albums (two, for those keeping score) released under the Melvins moniker in the last two years have been pure bullshit. Though lesser types would lose faith after the tremendous amount of bullshit these guys have released over the course of 18 years and 18 albums, the patient are always rewarded. Hostile Ambient Takeover is just such a reward.

One of the band's more song-oriented outings (which isn't saying a whole helluva lot), Hostile Ambient Takeover marries the band's experimental, almost arty tendencies with some of their heaviest grooves and sludgiest riffs. And, in true perverse Melvins fashion, one of the album's best tracks is not even graced with a title (track 2, which they didn't bother to list on the cover). The album's other heavy rocker (a bone thrown for the old-timers, perhaps?), "The Brain Center at Whipples," wouldn't have been out of place on Houdini. Of course, alongside these slabs of brain-fried Sabbath gloomp are slices of full-on freakdom like "The Fool, the Meddling Idiot": Eight minutes of brutally slow lurching which gives way to an airy synth-pop ending, or the closer "The Anti-Vermin Seed," which builds, over the course of 16 minutes, from an understated drum'n'bass intro to a crushing, full-band finale.

Special mention must also be made of the packaging, a beautifully-realized, densely-constructed Dadaist collage of images (including a bunch of '70s Halloween masks, one of which looks eerily like Michael Jackson) that adds up to total nonsense and tells little or nothing about the music contained within. In other words, it's a perfect visual accompaniment to the Melvins' music.
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