Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Melvins - Eggnog (EP)

Eggnog (EP)

Released 1992 on Boner
Reviewed by Dog 3000, 19/02/2004ce

1. Wispy 1:45
2. Antitoxidote 2:15
3. Hog Leg 3:22
4. Charmicarmicat 12:47

Buzz Osborne - vocal, guitar
Dale Crover - drums
Lorax (aka Lori Black) - bass

For me this shall always be the perfect Melvins record. With three short whirlwind punk-metal curlicues on the A side and one massive trudge o' doom on the flip, this EP pretty much encompasses all that is great about the Melvins.

There are a couple unique things about Melvins music which are on full display here. First of all, Buzz's bizarre singing. It doesn't sound all that bizarre, but the thing is his lyrics don't make any sense. The grammer is gibberish and he makes up words, whatever sounds good I guess. "Like stee, moanin ludlow" and stuff like that. About the only lyric you can make out is the chant "Pigs don't lie!" on "Antitoxidote" but supposedly that lyric is actually "Pigs don't let it," whatever that means!

Second of all, at their most primal the Melvins seem to dispense with notions of melody & harmony all together and create a musical language all their own. It's almost more like landscape painting or architecture. The way the drums and bass suddenly drop out for a measure here and there, a monotonous riff lumbers on with only subtle changes in the snare accent to mark any musical development, the whole band just pauses and drops a beat, on and on with these strange "dynamic devices" that take the place of where "hooks" would normally go in conventional rocknroll.

The spartan sound arrangement is also perfect: Buzz's guitar is screechy and trebly and he either plays very loud & wild, or else he doesn't play at all. The bass never seems to leave it's lowest possible octave register, and Lorax likes to bend those deeep notes a lot creating a kewl gravity-shifting effect. Dale Crover's drumming goes back and forth between thunderous prog-metalism and primitive banging & clanging on pots & pans. Every instrument is doing something interesting at every moment (or is interesting in it's sudden absence) and if you don't like the riff they're playing right now, wait 5 seconds and it will probably change.

"Wispy" is the briefest of songs, sort of a symmetrical arrangement alternating a prog funk indyrock groove with blasts of pounding noise in 1/1 metre (meaning: bam!bam!bam!bam!bam!)

"Antitoxidote" begins with a series of explosive dive bomber bends on bass & gutiar, then goes into thrash metal territory for a bit before an odd rhythmic breakdown and then into a noisy boogie with the "Pigs don't lie!" chant, before flying off the rails into sheets of feedback and polyrhythmic big finish drum wank.

Seguing directly into a cut-up speech by TV evangelist Pat Robertson, where he is made to say things like "Christians are commanding alcohol, is good!" and "We can go to church, and you're naked!" as a bit of comic relief before the grinding deth metal stomp of "Hog Leg", the best of the three barnburners here. Buzz sings in his screechiest upper register, and periodically the whole band stops for bursts of guitar feedback so intensely annoying that Beck sampled this bit to equally disconcerting effect on his "Odelay" album.

Then on to the epic "Charmicarmicat" -- it begins with the sound of a pile of burning guitar amplifiers at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Eventually bass & drums join in and it turns into the slowest song Black Sabbath ever recorded, played at half speed. At about 4 minutes in they get to the song's "hook": 2 slow diving note bends on the guitar with a dropped beat. Buzz incants and bellows some more gibberish lyrics as the song gets noisier, but not any faster. Then it recedes in perfect symmetrical fashion: back out to the sloooow Sabbath march, then the burning underwater amplifiers again.

"Bullhead" is another great album by this Melvins lineup, also recommended & worth seeking out (also released on Boner in 1991.)

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