Melvins - Tres Cabrones

by Miz DeShannon Rating:8.5 Release Date:2013-11-04

The aptly-titled Tres Cabrones ('Three Delinquents') sees Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover reuniting with original drummer Mike Dillard after 30 years apart, making a long overdue album of comic oddness and heavy metal. Full of irregular switches between punk, doom and Judas Priest-style rock, this album of totally new tunes is a bizarre but perfect combination of debaucherous treats.

Immediately harking back to Black Flag/My War-influenced sounds of 1984, the experimental oddness of 'Dr. Mule' and its squealing and whirring minor-keys opens proceedings. Slowing the tempo a touch, next comes heavy, wailing, juddering 'City Dump', grinding to a near halt on 'American Cow' - sludgy, doomy and totally Shrinebuilder. Lest we forget the craziness of Melvins, 'Tie My Pecker to a Tree' is the first of a trio of one-minute interpretations of traditional songs, a manic little punk-rant insert.

More diving basslines on 'Dogs and Cattle Prods' which fades into a dizzy drift of soft drums and acoustic strumming. 'Psychodelic Haze' is a bit of a lull, not as exciting, but somewhat plodding and uninteresting and hardly psycho. Things perk up again with '99 Bottles of Beer', nothing more than a punk version of the good old song, with Mike Patton-esque squeaky voices and laddish ranting. It's perfectly followed by the aptly titled 'I Told You I Was Crazy', actually a dark doom number, again showing Crover's obvious leanings once the electro-mental intro is over.

'Stump Farmer', in comparison to the rest of the tracks on Tres Cabrones, is a bit dull, although things pick up with the final in the trio of piss-takes, 'You're in the Army Now', another comedy version of a trad song from guys who obviously never want to grow up (see this year's April covers release Everybody Loves Sausages). Fantastic guitar on 'Walter's Lips' is reminiscent of the kind of punk/rock 'n' roll crossover heard on releases like Guns 'n' Roses' Lies album, and 'Stick 'Em Up Bitch' finishes with more of almost-the-same - even more obvious, raucous punk.

It's easy to see how recordings like these spawned the likes of Tool, Neurosis and Mr Bungle. Tres Cabrones reflects songwriter Osborne's off-the-wall, Fantômas style as well as his Fecal Matter grunginess and holds the band's position as dons of experimental rock genre(s). Supposedly these are all-new tracks for the new get-together, but four are from the band's 2012 1983 EP ('Psychodelic Haze', 'Stump Farmers', 'Walter's Lips' and 'Stick 'Em Up Bitch') - obviously a taster for the 1983 reunion that was to come.

All in all, Tres Cabrones is another spot-on Ipecac release. Avant-garde in its construction but not its writing (that's left to other label mates), it's definitely one for anyone who has any interest in any type of rock from the early 80s onwards. It's all in here, and bizarrely so.

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