w/ Dead Low Tide
Tues May 14, Showbox, $14/$16.
Don't place your trust in the Melvins--they'll only revel in breaking it. Once you think you've pinned down the band's punk post-metal style, they scramble the code. (Witness 2001's The Colossus of Destiny, a 72-minute live trek of self-indulgent noise, versus the new, amazing Hostile Ambient Takeover, with eight discernible beginnings and endings.) Don't expect that their bruising sound collages will resemble "songs." (Mike Patton once described a Melvins track as sounding like "a hippie stuck in a meat grinder for eight minutes.") And don't assume that Melvins guitarist/vocalist Buzz "King Buzzo" Osborne will leave you alone if you fuck with him during a show. During a stadium gig opening for Tool, Osborne jumped into the crowd and strangled a heckler. "I didn't hurt him or anything," he says of the incident, phoning in from an Australia tour. "He was pretty freaked out, though. Probably the last thing he expected at an arena rock show was for me to grab him around the throat and throttle him."
For the past 18 years, the Melvins have survived with "probably the last thing you'd expect" as their mantra. The thing you can count on from the trio (Osborne, drummer Dale Crover, and bassist Kevin "Rutmanis") is that they treat music-making like a schizoid experiment, constantly using new tools to aid in their rock tortures. During the recording of Hostile, fourth wheel Sir David Scott Stone played the "thunder sheet"--a large piece of metal with contact mics on it run through a guitar amp and distortion boxes--and the "electric wire," a big piece of copper wire hooked to a contact mic and run through a number of effects into a guitar amp. "It sounds like hell on earth," jokes Osborne.
Bringing hell to humans is just one of the benefits of being a Melvin. Other perks (choking fools, hammering out brain-frying noise) turn these guys into legends in the world of heavy sludge-rock. The fact that you can't trust what kind of damage they'll do next is all part of the charm--albeit a charm they're always pummeling.