The Melvins: Hold It In

First album in four years, with guests from Butthole Surfers.

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Since 1983, The Melvins have been a wonderfully unstable constant on the rock fringes. Still fronted by Buzz Osborne of the explosion-in-a-mattress-factory hairdo, they continue to make good on that paradox with Hold It In.

It oscillates between tracks like opener Bride Of Crankenstein, which clatters along like a rusty, beat-up old truck that’s never let you down, and more freakish excursions like Barcelonian Horseshoe Pit, which gradually swirls and disappears down its own psychedelic plughole.

JD Pinkus and Paul Leary of Butthole Surfers help out, Leary’s distinctive guitars howling and pouring out like bats from a barn, or billowing black smoke on closer House Of Gasoline. In between, you’ve got the strange case of You Can Make Me Wait, its vocals delivered like a cross between Jeff Lynne and Alvin Lucier into a vocoder-cum-washbasin. Then there’s Nine Yards, whose guitars sound like an Apollo launch recorded on to a five-dollar tape deck.

Titles like Piss Pisstopherson suggest that if The Melvins have a weakness, it’s in refusing to take their own awesomeness seriously. But that’s who and what they are, and given they’re rolling this strong this late, we shouldn’t complain./o:p

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.