Rogers and Hammerstein, Salieri and Mozart, DeNiro and Scorcese. What makes a great partnership? Is it differences in opinion that compliment the end result as a whole? Is it a common interest in achieving the same goal? Is it true artistic collaboration and respect of each others' ideas and vision? The partnership between The Melvins and Ipecac Recordings would seem to indicate the latter.
Nude With Boots is The Melvins' fourteenth release with the label (not including the 7" series comprising of tracks from Hostile Ambient Takeover). With its release number being IPC-105, that makes roughly 15% of the label's entire catalog attributed to The Melvins. That's commitment and loyalty that's just not found in this day and age, particularly in an era of downloading that have made things from a label standpoint more cutthroat that ever.
This latest release from our Olympian (WA) champions also marks the second release with newest members Jared Warren and Coady Willis, also known as Big Business. The addition of a second drummer at first seemed redundant with a master like Dale Crover behind the kit, but this latest lineup has added a surprising depth and restorative sound that, while the band never reached stale proportions seemed to be in need of a stabilizing influence. The result has been arguably the strongest lineup the band has had since the "glory days" of Matt Lukin. Or at least Joe Preston. The Spinal Tap-style bassist jokes have always hung over the band like an albatross around the necks of Crover and Osbourne, but with the BBB (Big Business Boys I just made that up. Catchy, no?), and no disrespect to past bassists - there now appears to be other members that actually matter.
There's a different sound to this album than on 2006's (A) Senile Animal. In fact it's kind of a different sound for the band, period. The fuzz is turned down for one if this was any other band, there might be accusations of "mellowing" with age, but this is The Melvins after all.
Nude With Boots has more of a relaxed, carefree sound. A kind of (and I know Buzz Osbourne's gonna kick the dogshit out of me for saying this), 70's arena rock feel. They've always had a doom-blues tempo which was never a bad thing but here, they seem to have lightened up a bit, making the sound more palatable, certainly to a newer ear, not that new recruits were ever a priority for the band. They've been doing what they do and doing it well for twenty-four years and aren't about to change for the likes of you.
Opening with "The Kicking Machine," a "Ramble On"-style tune that sets the pace for the next forty-or-so minutes. Nude With Boots runs the gamut from the aforementioned Zeppelin-esque to a very straight up (for Crover, anyway) rock-beat on "The Stupid Creep" to a riff in "Suicide In Progress" that could just as easily have been played by a Sunset Strip act circa 1987. Throw in a cover of Berlioz's "Dies Iraea", otherwise known as the theme from The Shining and you now have as fully rounded an album as the band's ever recorded.
All these equations to traditional rock music might sound like a bad thing, and in the hands of a lesser band, it would be. But, as stated before, this isn't just any band. This is The Melvins, goddammit. Buzz still unleashes more power in one downstroke than most "heavy" bands have in an entire album. They are a mighty band with a mighty sound that's remained steadfast and unwavering in their quarter century of existence. You can like 'em, love 'em or even hate 'em, they'll always be cool enough to not give a shit either way.