A Walk with Love and Death
Double Studio Gonzo
dB rating: 8/10
Release Date: July 7, 2017
Label: Ipecac Recordings
Earlier this spring I was about to affix the safety harness on the Transformers 3-D ride at Universal Studios Los Angeles when Buzz Osborne of the Melvins joined me at random in the pod. For the next five minutes, I watched as his face transitioned from joy to uncertainty to relief to something approaching ecstasy. Here was a legend of underground music in the throes of joy as he experienced beatitude from immersive special effects. There was a childlike beauty in his embrace of joy via corporate annihilation.
In case you are wondering what this chance meeting has to do with the Melvins’ new double album—another chapter in a catalog that seems to increase by pi squared every year—the answer is everything. A Walk with Love and Death is the work of musicians who simply do not accept that at this point in your career you’re expected to release non-embarrassing albums that allow you to tour perpetually. It’s the work of musicians who abandoned caution at the onset of their careers and jettison it outright decades later. Instead, the Melvins release a colossus of a double album (the first in three-plus decades) that is rife with double personality: radio-friendly hits in the classic Melvins vein with beautifully harmonized vocals on the first album, Death. The second album, Love, the soundtrack to a short film directed by Jesse Nieminen, upends any expectations of safety cultivated by the earlier songs. It’s a headphone-ready orgy of noise, psychotic bebop jazz and sound effects.
It’s a wonder that, well into middle age, a band like the Melvins make a career out of taking incredible risks. It is perhaps an even greater wonder that these audacious gambles sound so compelling.
— Justin M. Norton
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