Ten years ago, when Big Business’s core duo of bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis grafted their considerable talents to Melvins like some sort of alt-metal Constructicon to form a stonking, rhythmically bewildering Devastator, it not only revitalised the latter’s career but also propelled the former into the wider rock consciousness.
The three albums the quartet recorded together, starting with 2006’s still outstanding (A) Senile Animal, produced some of the Melvins’ best material since the mid-90s. Such is the praise heaped on that trio of records that it’s easy to forget that during that time Messrs Warren and Willis remained more than active with Big Business, and released a string of LPs, gradually expanding their lineup to include various guitarists until the criminally ignored Battlefields Forever, which they self-released three years ago.
And now, having somewhat loosened their association with Melvins, and with Battlefields Forever guitarist Scott Martin having departed, Command Your Weather represents the pair’s first recording as a duo since 2007’s outstanding sludge-ride, Here Come The Water Works. If, however, you’re expecting that stripping their lineup back means a more minimalist approach, then fear not. Through drums, bass, voice and, err, bells (mostly during the Exorcist-like opening track, Last Legs) alone the pair have somehow conjured a sound that at times – during Blacker Holes in particular – sounds like Godzilla riding a concrete tsunami on a surfboard made of glitter. And there are more surprises in here too – the punk intensity that kicks off Regulars initially sounds like the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy In The UK, whilst the LP’s unexpected highlight, Send Help, sees Warren and Willis back their confident vocal harmonies with yet more sparse bells and a treatment applied to Warren’s bass that makes it sound like a clown playing a wood saw: odd, off-kilter and yet in its subject matter ultimately filled with emotional ennui. They’ve not reinvented their own wheel here, but in going backwards Big Biz have surely made themselves more relevant than ever.