Opener “The Water Glass” begins heavy, oozing the slow guitar sludge the band is best known for, but an abrupt drum roll signals the start of an incongruous military cadence. Beats me. “Evil New War God” develops into something closer to what most folks call a song, but it rages with early-’80s intensity as though thrash is an untested trend and some congressional subcommittee might very well be analyzing its lyrics for Satanic content. “Pig House” sounds less vicious by comparison, with plenty of the percussive showboating you’d expect from a band with two drummers augmented by a guitar call-and-response and clipped vocal delivery that somehow recalls Deerhoof, though it probably shouldn’t. An act with more commercial concerns (read: any at all) might well have charted with it, circa 1995. “Hospital Up,” the most melodic track here (as in it’s practically pretty, if you don’t count the penguin squawking or the free-jazz outro) is also the best, and the most Melvins-like song is an eviscerated cover of the Who’s “My Generation.” Practically 30 years into their career, the Melvins are still bringing the WTF.
The Melvins play the White Rabbit (sawhiterabbit.com) Sunday, June 6.