Metal in a bottle

Metal in a bottle

From Aberdeen, Wash., to Copenhagen, Denmark, the Melvins still bring the pain.

Mark Driver

Published on January 24, 2001

I WAS IN DENMARK once—Copenhagen, to be more precise. One of the world’s best record stores, to be even more precise, but the precision stops there because I don’t remember the name of the place. Last Rites? Fatal Exfoliation? It doesn’t matter really, but the place is like a world-class cheese shop of metal: Polish pagan, Icelandic Odinism, Singapore Brutalcore, Pakistani Power-violence, Lo-Fi Turkish, in both the Black and Death varieties. And you can bet the guy behind the counter knows his shit. Looking at my silly Danish money, which takes on the feel of high-stakes monopoly cash after a bottle of aquavit, I realize I need the best records in the store, and the creep behind the counter is the man to point me in the right direction.

The Melvins
Experience Music Project, Friday, January 26

Surrendering my cool status in trade for righteous noise, I ask, “What’s the best record in here?” Without hesitating, the guy says, “The Melvins.” The Melvins? From the US? “Yes.” Which record? He looks at me like I’m the dumbest person on the planet and finally says, like it’s totally obvious, “All of them.” Fuck. I didn’t come all the way to Scandinavia to buy Melvins records. I already have most of them anyway. Well, they’re all on tape, but they sound best that way, in a cranked Walkman with a tummy full of booze.

Once it’s established that we both like the Melvins and that I’m from Seattle, he instantly brightens and wants to talk in funny English, and then he explodes: “Wow! You live so close to Aberdeen! Melvins sounds best on a tape made from overdriven phono. Turn up the output, dude. ‘Bitten Into Sympathy,’ dude! That riff! Everything gets blown to shit and . . . Oh, dude! I did a quarter-inch transfer remaster of their greatest hits and I sell it as a reel-to-reel bootleg, and I personally know 19 people who bought an old player just for that bootleg. Check this out!”

He pushes a pile of stupid promos off a shelf to reveal spinning 7-inch reels fed through a shiny machine and flips the on lever, and the ceiling starts dropping plaster and—OK, OK, I know. Nothing’s grosser than two hyper metal fans getting jizz on each other. I’ll get back in my cage peaceably; you can stop prodding me with that broom handle.

AND THE POINT of all this is that you’re an idiot if you don’t like the Melvins. There is something wrong with you. I’m not kidding. It’s not a matter of being cool or respect for your elders or supporting any sort of a scene. It’s about being beaten to death with your own spine and loving every second of it. It’s about eating your own feet to the bone. It’s about drinking battery acid and walking on hot coals and surviving cobra bites and eating prison food. Do you understand me yet?

And while I’m asking questions, do the Melvins send out stupid promos? The kind with the glossy photos of scowling men, arms crossed, leaning against chain-link fences looking tough as shit? The photo stapled to the fill-in-the-blank press release that says, “If you like your rock and roll to be high-octane and also electrifying, then you will really love the extreme in-your-face music stylings of (fill in band name here)”?

If the Melvins do send those turds out, I’m glad they didn’t send me one. The Melvins are above that. Bios are boring; band quotes are worthless. They should mail out their press CDs in a plain paper bag with the severed finger of a blind child. See, I’ve been listening to them too much. I never used to say things like that.

I did manage to score a copy of their latest, Electroretard, and it noticeably lacked a severed finger in the packaging. Electroretard, like Crybaby before it, is mostly novelty ice creams and trick pink ponies. But while Crybaby sucked respectable blood from David Yow and Mike Patton and Hank Williams III with worthwhile results, Electroretard seems a bag of rubber eels left over after a fishing trip: Pink Floyd and Wipers covers, computer thrashings of some older songs, a Cows tune (viva la Cows!), and “Revolve” off of Stoner Witch backwards. It seems like they spent a short weekend at the beach putting this one together. Still, it’ll bang your pets around. It’ll get you kicked out of the bowling alley parking lot. And it wins best record cover of the year, pants down.

The Melvins are playing here on Friday. Go see them. And go buy a record. Which one? All of them, dumbass.