Melvins – Freak Puke

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Melvins
Freak Puke
Ipecac

This is the first Melvins album since 2004 to not feature the Big Business rhythm section of Jared Warren and Coady Willis. Instead, joining stalwarts Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover is returning member Trevor Dunn, performing on this album with an upright bass. And without disparaging recent Melvins’ efforts – cos they’ve generally been pretty good – the combination the band themselves have dubbed ‘Melvins-Lite’ is Melvins’ freshest-sounding for years, thanks in part to the chunky sounds of that bass and a slightly stripped back sound all round.

Unfortunately, it does feel like ‘Freak Puke‘ takes a little while to get going, owing a lot to the experimentation that seems to be going on during parts of this album. Its easy to get lost in the avant-garde of ‘Inner Ear Rupture’, and the jam session feel that overruns ‘Baby Won’t You Weird Me Out?’ Yet despite this ‘Freak Puke‘ does have some welcome moments on it. The opening track ‘Mr. Rip Off’ is certainly a grower, brooding in its lurking presence with Dunn plucking the thick bass strings to mysterious effect, and the riff fest of ‘Leon vs. The Revolution’ is thoroughly righteous too.

Melvins – Leon vs The Revolution

It perhaps speaks something to me though, when the track I enjoyed the most was their cover of ‘Let Me Roll It’, originally a Paul McCartney & Wings track. It becomes a smouldering blues-rock slow jam and if I heard this version of the song in a bar I would drunkenly sing along to every word. Sure, McCartney and Wings deserve credit for their genius in writing such a song that the Melvins can turn into a dive bar singalong. I can’t say I’d have done this for the original, given all I hear about as a non-fan of Wings is ‘Band on the Run’ or ‘Mull of Kintyre’. Whatever, ‘Let Me Roll It’ is a massively overlooked song, a quality one at that, and the Melvins did a fantastic job of this cover.

All in all, Melvins-Lite is a combination of the Melvins I certainly wouldn’t mind hearing more from in future, given the added groove provided by Dunn’s upright bass. That said, ‘Freak Puke‘ is almost like an unfinished article – not an unfinished work, because that would denote half a job. It’s not their greatest work and I’m still unsure about bits of it, but the Melvins have at least made an intriguing album, which, thirty years on, is no mean feat.

Peter Clegg

Cannibal Corpse – Torture

Cannibal Corpse

Torture
Metal Blade
Let’s get one thing straight before we continue here; one given with ‘Torture‘ is that there’s no real surprises to be expected. Everybody knows what Cannibal Corpse brings to the table, and that’s brutality, riffs, blastbeats and buckets and buckets of gore. That they’re still doing this on their twelfth studio album and still remain at the top of the death metal is testament to their merciless delivery time and time again.
Torture‘ quite up there with recent albums ‘Kill‘ and ‘Evisceration Plague‘, but those two albums were mercilessly brilliant and that doesn’t mean ‘Torture‘ is a slouch in comparison. Far from it. There is an ever so subtle shift in dynamic without dramatically cutting at what Cannibal Corpse do. There’s more than one occasion where they’re almost in groove territory, which, if you’ve not heard the new album yet, is not something to be alarmed by – the riffs are still ultra heavy and George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher delivers his guttural vocals in much the same fashion too. There’s also some sterling bass work by Alex Webster on here, the highlight being a ripping bass solo during ‘The Strangulation Chair’. 
Cannibal Corpse – Encased in Concrete (official video)
To sum it up with various tracks is futile because Cannibal Corpse is Cannibal Corpse. But once again, Erik Rutan’s has turned out a sterling production job and captured Corpse’s bloodthirst on record supremely well again. One or two outlets have proclaimed this album as a career best although, once again, I would still take ‘Kill‘ from their recent output, but even if you’ve heard everything they’ve had to offer before, this is still a worthy pick up, and you’re one of the few people on this planet to have never heard Cannibal Corpse (where have you been?), now is as good a time to start as any.
Peter Clegg

This is not a tribute


For some reason, I feel compelled to devote time and energy to the subject of tribute bands – a niche of live music that really doesn’t normally interest me and has no relevance to me as it’s not a representation of incoming talent. With the greatest respect to these bands, as good as what they provide might be, I want to hear what the likes of Iron Witch and Zillah have got coming next, and not how good an impression of Phil Lynott a Thin Lizzy tribute act can do.

What has stirred the hornet’s nest, so to speak, is my own gullability. I was drawn in by my local rock bar, The Parish in Huddersfield, putting out a status on Facebook asking how many people liked TURBONEGRO. The post got a fair few appreciative comments with one or two people perhaps wondering and suggesting The Parish were about to announce something big. I certainly did, I’m embarrassed to say. I wish I hadn’t.
Maybe it was the fact Wheatus had just played there. Maybe it was because they’d had big acts in the last year or two. Maybe its because Turbonegro, much as I love them, haven’t had as great a profile in the last couple of years as they did around the middle of the last decade, owing to ill health and the departure of frontman Hank von Helvete…to scientology. I’m fully aware they did recruit ex-Dukes of Nothing singer Tony Sylvester to replace Hank and they’re doing the festival circuit this summer in support of new album ‘Sexual Harassment’. But I could dream. Aside from the aforementioned Wheatus, the venue had recently lured Ginger Wildheart and Fleshgod Apocalypse among its big names to perform there. Surely, surely this was going to be the epic announcement the tease suggested.
Not so. Instead, what was announced was Turbonegra, ‘the world’s number 1 all-female Turbonegro tribute!’ Several people appeared to like the announcement, others said they’d be on it in a shot. Out of respect I declined to comment further simply as I didn’t want to appear to be criticising the venue’s booking strategy (which I have no say in at all), and wasn’t intent on upsetting good friends with my brutally honest assessment.
Which is as follows: Aside from the irony of an all-female Turbonegro tribute potentially singing songs such as ‘Denim Demon’ and ‘I Got…(which I’m sure isn’t lost on them), I really don’t see the appeal. I’ve already seen the previous incarnation of Turbonegro three times, once at the Cockpit in May 2005 which I remember very well due to being on the verge of fainting from sheer sweat and heat exhaustion. That will probably be the Turbonegro experience for me that will never, ever be topped. But more importantly, the real Turbonegro are still very much active – why would I want to see a tribute act when I can wait for the real thing to come around again? And why would I want to tarnish such a memory by watching a band who, as good as they might turn out to be, will never be as good as the band they are imitating?

TURBONEGRO: THE REAL THING

Surely that’s a conundrum that most music fans that live in towns that bands don’t visit very often face. Do you save your money for the day your favourite band announces a tour within accessible reach? Or do you take a wild stab at that really similar sounding tribute act who play the area often? Who knows when Kiss will be back around town? The temptation to instead see Kiss Alive! Or Hotter Than Hell, for example, will always linger for those wanting a Kiss experience but not wanting to fork out the high prices the real Kiss charge. But again, I was lucky enough to see Kiss when they performed at Donington in 2008, an experience I will never, ever forget as long as I live. I even have the copy of the show on CD if I ever get reminiscent.

I’m not a rich guy. I’m comfortable but that’s through hard work and prudent financial sense. I’ve saved for the gigs I want to go to and more often that not, get the necessary bang for my money. I will never disrespect what bands like Turbonegra, Limehouse Lizzy, Hotter Than Hell, Slack Babbath, Motorheadache, Live/Wire et al do, and one day, my opinion may shift. But, while their heroes/heroines are still going strong, I’d rather sit back and wait. I’m not going to regret missing any tribute. I might regret it if I didn’t take my chance there and then to see the real thing live while they were in the UK, or while they were going. Fair enough if the actual band you’re aping isn’t around any more. 101% Pantera is one good example, considering the real Pantera will most likely never perform again owing to Dimebag Darrell’s death. Even then, I’d never feel desperate to want to go and see them.
Maybe I’m being a prude. Maybe I’m losing sight of the fact that a tribute band isn’t really going to make a lot of money out of their fan service, and that what they do is something they do well. Putting the effort in to be their heroes, performing to a range of spectators, not all of whom will regularly chuck themselves into a moshpit and more than likely have only the most passing of interests in rock music. More likely than that, they probably just want a good time, and who can blame them?
I’d love for people to chip in with their opinions. It’s not the most pressing of topics on a blog that is constantly championing fresh new bands. But I personally feel I needed to put it out there, because my own gullability certainly set me up for disappointment – disappointment at which I needed to vent.
Peter Clegg

Visions: Primus – Lee Van Cleef

It feels like ages ago since Primus released ‘Green Naughahyde‘, their first album in 11 years. At last, however, they have released an official video for the song ‘Lee Van Cleef’, which asks the eternal question burning on Les Claypool’s mind – whatever happened to Lee Van Cleef? The question was apparently born out of Claypool’s curiosity as to what became of the late Van Cleef, against the clamour for living legend Clint Eastwood, whom he starred alongside in some of the great Western movies in years gone by, including starring the villainous Angel Eyes in ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’.

The answer apparently lies here. You see, if you watch ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ right through to the end credits, you’ll see Angel Eyes reincarnated as a zombie. Apparently.

Peter Clegg

Dope Body – Natural History

Dope Body

Natural History
Drag City
The term ‘punk’ is more loosely defined than ever. Once a defiant statement of rebellion, its label has been applied to some many undeserving things that the lines of what is punk and isn’t punk are more blurred than ever before. Evolution is a welcome thing but the watering down of punk’s description certainly hasn’t been. These days, unless you really sound and look the part and chime in with an acidic bark and a sheer defiance of authority, the next best attributable thing is probably to acts which exudes a hint of apathy and a smattering of could-care-less what you think attitude blended with a penchant for excess. That’s perhaps how I could at least best sum up Baltimore‘s Dope Body, a quartet whose ‘Natural History‘ is perhaps one of the finest dangerous, reckless and indeed careless statements of arguable punk today.

What is noticeable straight away is Dope Body likes to mix things up. ‘Shook’ opens this album and is effectively their arising from slumber, really coming across with a Melvins and assorted slow punk vibe. The following track ‘Road Dog’ is a more straightforward rocker, with a fantastic pre-chorus chant of ‘do what you wanna do/see what you wanna se/go where you wanna go‘ before launching into a more passionate refrain. It’s hard to pick out what I like most about the album, with the fantastic tinkling riff of ‘Twice the Life’, the slow, brooding intent of ‘Out of my Mind’, the easy riding wit of ‘High Way‘ with the line of ‘I’m not hopelessly looking/I’m not hopeless but I’m not looking!‘ all proving to be addictive highlights. If its any justice as well, ‘Weird Mirror’ will be one of the feelgood hits of the summer, even if it were only for its ‘woah-oh’s and careening pace.


I’ve been listening to this record a lot over the last week or so and that I’m still enjoying it and still not tired of it speaks a lot for its quality. This was my first exposure to Dope Body and the results could not have been more stunning. I’m aware their songs were much more punchy and brief in their early days but they’ve evolved into a howling vortex of jarring noise and punk rock energy. It might all be effects and technical wizardry, but guitarist Zachary Utz seems to be able to contort and conjour all manner of noises from his guitar – I could’ve sworn ‘Twice the Life’s twinkling riff was a steel drum at first. The heady brew of sonic sounds is complimented by vocalist Andrew Laumann’s assorted yelps, howls and reverberations and makes for perhaps one of the most exciting bands of our time. Its punk rock thrown in the blender with the Jesus Lizard, Lightning Bolt and other assorted supplements, as if to celebrate your stupor. At the same time, it’s perfectly accessible, losing none of its quality for it either.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say its wholly original, but this experimental approach has certainly paid dividends and I don’t expect it will be too long (or so I hope) before Dope Body break out of the USA and over to Europe and beyond. ‘Natural History‘ is going to be an absolutely compulsory purchase when it drops, as high a compliment as I really give around here. Do it.
Peter Clegg

John Garcia and Brant Bjork respond over Kyuss Lives! lawsuit; Kyuss name dragged further through the mud


Deary, deary me. Now it seems its getting personal between the four men at the center of the pending lawsuit over the Kyuss name. As you may remember, Josh Homme and Scott Reeder filed a lawsuit against former bandmates John Garcia and Brant Bjork over the use of the Kyuss name in relation to Garcia and Bjork’s reformation of the band under the name of Kyuss Lives! Garcia and Bjork have remained largely silent. Until now that is, with this revealing e-mail exchange courtesy of Rolling Stone.

Some of the more interesting exchanges are listed below:
Did the federal lawsuit filed by Josh and Scott in March come as a surprise?

Brant Bjork: Was I surprised? As far as Scott is concerned, yes, I was very surprised. I wasn’t surprised by Josh at all. They don’t want to mention that they trademarked the name Kyuss after I left the band, assuring that I had no rights in Kyuss’ future. They’re both accusing John and I of doing something that they actually did themselves. Their inner conflict is this: both Josh and Scott want control and money from Kyuss Lives!, but they don’t want to participate and they ultimately don’t want us to exist. The double standard is unbelievable.

… We have a lot of respect for Scott as a musician and had a lot of respect for him as a person. Based on the fact that John and I jammed with Nick at Hellfest in 2010, we asked Nick to be the bass player and its quite obvious Scott is bitter about that. Scott’s stance is weak and shameful.

Bjork also went into detail about when he formed Kyuss in 1987 and criticized Homme’s attempt to claim the band as his own.This untruth has affected Josh’s ability to accept historical fact to the point that he truly believes he is entitled to dictate what we do with a band that we’re all responsible for. The simple fact that we got the band back together without him has left his ego bruised. I swallowed the bitter pill watching the band carry on after I left – now Josh is getting a taste.”
How would I steal a name that I myself found? Trademark infringement and consumer fraud are accusations used by Josh and Scott to justify why they do not want John and I to continue as a band without them. As for consumer fraud, we had a successful last year performing sold out shows all over the world. Kyuss fans are intelligent, conscious people. If they thought this was consumer fraud, they wouldn’t have supported it. Their accusation of consumer fraud a year after our successful tours is very insulting to us and to the fans.
John Garcia said of the band’s future plans:Win or lose, we believe that the name Kyuss Lives! is worth fighting for, and regardless of the outcome of this foolish lawsuit Josh Homme and Scott Reeder have filed against us, we will continue conducting business as usual and connecting with our amazing loyal fans. It is our God-given right to play any and every Kyuss song anywhere and anyhow we see fit, no matter who wrote what, and we will continue to do so for as long as we are alive. Because of this, we have already won.
I don’t think there are any real winners in this – at least Black Sabbath had already done their best to sully their reputation before the Bill Ward fiasco, but at least they’ve come out of it relatively clean time and time again. There are plenty of losers here – myself and fans of Kyuss the world over will be disappointed at how readily this lawsuit appears to be played out in public, and its more certain than not that more dirty laundry is going to come out of the wash yet.
Peter Clegg

Graf Orlock – Los Angeles

Graf Orlock

Los Angeles
Vitriol
Having run the gambit on forging together classic action movies together with hardcore and grindcore noise, Graf Orlock can rightfully claim to be the undisputed kings of ‘cinemagrind’. Some might have thought they might have run out of good samples to use following ‘Doombox‘ and the ‘Destination Time‘, but Graf seem to keep unearthing them. And where better to turn to than 1995 action classic Heat for four tracks of surging violence that reminds us why Graf Orlock are one of the most exciting extreme bands of our ilk.
The artwork, riddled with bulletholes shot into the artwork by the band themselves, is classic Orlock (previous releases have come in packaging styled as a boombox and a facehugging Alien. It’s a tidy little homage to Heat but a marker on what the next ten minutes are going to do to you. Each song begins with a now trademark movie sample, followed by battering ram riffs. There’s something magical about hearing Robert De Niro’s voice prior to Graf Orlock bringing down the hammer – songs like ‘Dead Man Talking’ rage and thrash with all the intensity we’re used to from the band. For me though, the par excellence comes on the finale, ‘Quick on the Trigger’, a relative grind epic at four minutes, which begins in typical grind/powerviolence style, but around the 1:50 mark, introduces a plodding groove that morphs into a dredging hardcore riff punctuated by a hail of bullets. An awesome finish to a relentless ride.
Not many bands, when I’m just listening to them, makes me want to particular rock out. I mean yeah, I meant nod/bang my head occasionally but nothing too strenuous. Graf Orlock, on the other hand, is a different proposition. The more I listened to ‘Los Angeles‘, the more I wanted to go positively ape in the middle of the street. Seriously, there’s something about the insane riffage or the short wait for a riff following a delicious movie sample that grabs me by the throat and rags me about like Bulletstorm’s Grayson Hunt.
If anything, I’d like more from Graf Orlock on their next release, and by that I mean a proper follow-up to the ‘Destination Time trilogy. This EP is killer, but although it’s not the shortest EP I’ve ever listened to, ten minutes is still a short amount of time. Still, ‘Los Angeles‘ is the tiny sliver of cake required to have us hungry for more of the same. A bigger piece next time will do nicely.
Peter Clegg
Stream it below: