1993, Music

Houdini (1993) by Melvins

One of the great things about the early 1990s is the signing frenzy the major labels went on trying to find the next Nirvana; as my friend once put it, not trying to find the next Nirvana sound-alike, but the next band that would break an entire genre, which would be the centre of an entire musical movement. As a result, so many uncommercial bands got major label deals.

This 55 minute onslaught of sludgy guitar and pounding drums is a major label debut. Only a few years earlier, the idea of Atlantic releasing something like this was laughable. Yes, most of these deals were foolish and sometimes even disastrous for label or artist, but I’m still glad it happened. Rarely has something like this happened in the US before the internet existed. So that’s cool.

As I said when reviewing another Melvins record, I know I’m supposed to like this band. And I do in some vague, intellectual way. I appreciate how they signed to Atlantic and then released this record. I appreciate how committed they are to their slow, sludgy, pounding sound. I appreciate the few times they diverge from that sound to something faster. I appreciate how influential they’ve been in popularizing the sludge sound. I appreciate them.

But I still don’t think I like them exactly. They’re one of those bands with a distinct sound and they’re good at that sound. But I want more variety in my metal or I want better songs (or both, ideally). That desire for songs makes me more of a stoner metal fan than a sludge metal fan but that’s just the way it is. I don’t normally want to wait seconds between chords as I occasionally have to on this record.

And the last track is ridiculous in both the good and bad connotations of the word.


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