I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Not only are Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover the founding members of the Melvins, they’re also soulless wraiths that have survived for centuries by feeding on unsuspecting bass players unfortunate enough to fall into their fold. They apparently ensnare 4-stringers with delusions of stardom, and eventually fall upon them in the dark of night, gobbling blood and innards until all that’s left is a gruesome, hollow husk.
Well, maybe not. Who the hell really knows. Regardless, the fact remains the Melvins have torn through a hell of a lot of bass players over the past 20 years, and following the recent “disappearance” of yet ANOTHER, they’ve recently had to rekindle the hunt for their next bass-wielding nutriment. So, with shadowy intentions cloaked, the two set out and plucked a feller directly from a band whose bass sound already very closely matched their own: Big Business/Karp madman, Jared Warren.
But that’s not all! Evidently, the boys have decided to expand their cannibalistic palate to include hapless drummers, because they incorporated Jared’s Big Business companion, Coady Willis, into the flock as well. That’s right folks, not only are the Melvins currently a foursome, but they now boast two unbelievable talents behind drum kits, and the results are pretty damned spectacular.
Simply put, (A) Senile Animal rocks. The strange, experimental ambient/proggy/psychedelic samplings that flitted about on Honky, The Bootlicker, and their recent collaboration with Lustmord have fallen to wayside in favor of spotlighting the immense percussive talent of their newfound drumming duo. In fact, nearly every song on this record throws some sort of nod to the drumming gods, with four of the ten songs closing out with various rolls, kicks, clatters and fills.
“Talking Horse”, “Blood Witch”, and “Rat Faced Cranny” are all ballsy rockers that smack the listener in the face like an old Kiss tune swaddled in fat, juicy pastrami. “Civilized Worm” – despite having a huge, arena rock-esque drummed beginning – eventually transforms into a beautiful, breezy hit that gingerly floats across the brainpan like a dinghy through still waters. And for those of you just dying to question why we would choose to review yet another rock record at a metal site, “The Hawk” and “You’ve Never Been Right” are both filled with the kind of metal riffage that could easily be delivered directly on the tip of Odin’s spear. Hell, this record even satisfies a filthy doomsters in the house with the odious crawler, “History of Bad Men” – a tune that spotlights Warren’s tar-soaked bass beautifully, and immediately brings to mind the wonderful Lysol days of yore.
My only gripe with (A) Senile Animal is the relatively lackluster way in which it ends. For an album that so thoroughly showcases their new rhythmic, rowdy energy during the first half hour, “Mechanical Bride” and “Vast Filthy Prison” close the album with a relatively quiet ‘plink’, instead of the ‘wa-BAM’ I was truly hoping for. Then again, this band has never really been known for doing exactly what’s expected of them.
If you consider yourself a long-time fan of the Melvins but have been avoiding this record for fear of another Prick or Colossus of Destiny, fear not, (A) Senile Animal is definitely worthy of your attention, and just might visit your stereo as often as the band’s seminal, classic material. Classic Melvins hitting at their best.