Melvins – A Senile Animal

One of the great questions of this industrialized nation: how many countless reviews have been written on how many countless bands?

After a while, I’m sure it gets repetitive.

After a while, I’m sure readers stop believing us reviewers when we swear you must hear this CD. Seems like we say it for every single band … exploring the depths of our broad vocabularies in hopes that you will understand how much we need to convey the message that you absolutely must listen to what we have just spent hours writing about. 

Don’t blame us though, we’re music lovers and we mean well. 

Nonetheless, how believable are our opinions when we’ve had a significant amount of time to coherently form our persuasions, then edit and polish them? What actually is going through our mind the second we’re listening to something? And what makes our verdict so damn important? Because I have a hunch that deep down, first and foremost, we’re trying to write well, and promote second. If not, wouldn’t reviews gauging musical merit would simply consist of us sticking our thumbs up (or down) at a proper angle?

So I had an idea. Maybe it’s a terrible idea, and maybe it’s a brilliant one. Let’s try it out and see. See, once the smoke cleared from the amalgam of godly punk/metal that was Sieg Howdy! with Jello Biafra, I didn’t think the Melvins could top themselves. After listening to their newest release, A Senile Animal, I wondered, how could I possibly convey how wrong I was and how psyched I get every time I pop in that CD? Dilemmas, dilemmas.

Consequently, I have indeed smoked some pot, and now I’m beginning to listen to A Senile Animal again as I sit down to write this. Why? I don’t know. Guess it may shake things up a bit. Maybe I’ll make more sense when my own senses are heightened. Or perhaps I’ll just get some intensified giggle fits. Oh, there they go.

Before we continue, let me clarify that I am not one of those stoners who listens to music while high and swears by the groundbreaking importance of it all. Not to say I haven’t tried to develop those sorts of tendencies- I tried jumping on the Pink Floyd bandwagon in my earlier years. The result? Turned it off out of boredom and ate a strawberry Pop-Tart instead. Therefore, I can conclude that in regards to stoned musical choices, I’m actually very picky. (Food on the other hand, not so much. I’m reminded of a time when I ate a Drumstick ice cream cone that had fallen on carpet coated with cat hair. Mmm.)

But I digress.

A Senile Animal is perfect in this state and out; very muddy, dirty, hazy, unhurried rock. My absolute favorite track, “You’ve Never Been Right,” has a very intense echoing quality to it, which makes staring at my Epoxies poster even weirder. (Surrounded by her bandmates, Roxy Epoxy’s just sort of floating in this 3-D checkered black hole. Which wouldn’t really make it black. I guess just a checkered abyss, if you will.) The transitioning into “A History of Bad Men” gives the Faint a run for their money … and between-track transitioning is a detail lost on almost all of today’s recordings.

Also, before I forget, let me note that except perhaps Jerry Falwell, there is probably not another person on this planet who discounts metal more than I do. And except the Melvins (and perhaps Wolfmother), there is probably not another band who can declare metal as such a strong influence and still captivate me as well as they do. Does this give me more credibility now? Or is it all shot to hell since I’ve admitted I’m high and now begun to talk about Pop-Tarts? Hmm… 

But I digress … again. Jeez.

Ending with “A Vast Filthy Prison,” the Melvins achieve a sort of visual glory by providing the soundtrack to a very fuzzy mental picture of a (surprise, surprise) prison. The beginning sounds like cranking or noisy plumbing. Guitars are reminiscent of something off Fugazi’s Instrument soundtrack. Actually, so are the vocals. It’s very symmetrical, because the clanking pipe sounds start and finish the song. Now I’m starting to think I’m hearing things because there’s this weird faint sound towards the end and sprinkled throughout the song, like someone sucking liquid out of a straw. 

How do you sum up extremely great music in writing and do it justice? Well, that’s why I’m writing this in an altered state. I figured I’d be able to describe it better, or have an excuse for my lack of not being able to. This release specifically; how do I describe it? It’s not revolutionary; it’s not the soundtrack to our generation. You’ll probably keep living if you don’t pick it up, unless you suddenly find yourselves cornered by a robber ten seconds away from puncturing your spleen with a sword unless you produce a Melvins CD. However, that seems unlikely.

It’s like, metal for metal haters. It’s like, aged mulletheads in acid-washed attire loitering in front of a 7-11, and walking to a muddy swamp to have kinky sex. It’s like, you absolutely must listen to what I have just spent about an hour writing about. 

Or smoke some pot so everything I just wrote makes sense. Either way.

(Ipecac Recordings)

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