Black humorists who play Black Sabbath riffs, the Melvins have always been rock’s idiot savants, singing in goofy cartoon voices while wallowing in a singular mix of mud-churning guitars, humongous percussion, and ground-rattling low bass. That they’ve managed to stick to this stew while keeping everyone interested for the last 20 years is remarkable; that they always sound familiar yet remain totally unpredictable is astounding. The band’s served as a constant revolving door for talented bassists—from Matt Lukin to Joe Preston to Kevin Rutmanis—but sewing on both members of Big Business to the core Melvins duo of Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover is a particularly inventive transplant. While Jared Warren’s bass provides superb counterpart to those sludgy guitars, it’s Coady Willis’s skins and trash-can lids that add a discernable clobber: The result is a louder, tighter, more aggressive band.
Nude With Boots, the second album with this crew, doesn’t have the volume and cohesion of 2006’s (A) Senile Animal, but it makes up for that in variety. From the elegiac guitar chime and train-track squeals of “Dies Iraea” to the flanged vocals and chugging Judas Priest–style guitars of “The Stupid Creep,” not one track here imitates another. The most glaring (and welcome) style indulged here is the overt love letter to classic rock, best exemplified by the Cheap Trick homage of the title track or “The Kicking Machine,” which is like “Cities on Flame (With Rock and Roll)” twice as loud, twice as fast, and twice as dumb. Throughout Boots, the Melvins display a renewed sense of purpose, revisiting different aspects of their career with gusto, still blazing after all these years.
The Melvins play the Music Hall of Williamsburg August 13 and the Bowery Ballroom August 14