The Melvins - A Walk With Love & Death (Ipecac)

The Melvins are back with a new record. There should be nothing surprising about that statement as The Melvins are constantly putting out new music. Their newest is the sprawling double LP A Walk With Love & Death. Hyped as one part “regular album” and one part Soundtrack, it’s filled with music we’ve come to expect from The Melvins though there’s much that is unexpected as well. It's this sense of confusion that has been at the center of everything the band has done in its 30+ years of existence. What is so loveable for some about The Melvins is exactly what is so not loveable for others – they are consistently inconsistent. Not in the sense of records being “good” or “bad”, but rather that it is impossible to predict what they will do next. As soon as you get comfortable, you can count on them to make you uncomfortable. For the non-fans, they feel that there is a joke in play and that they’re not in on it. And they are exactly right, The Melvins are constantly joking, and they really don't care if you think it’s funny. The funniest part about this release is the idea that the first album, subtitled Death, is hardly a proper “Melvins” album. It plays just as erratically as the second half of the saga does, that being Love. There is no normalcy in this box, there is no “regular” album to compare to its “irregular” sibling. It is just 100% Melvins.
Musically, it’s probably easier to describe this album by comparing it to other Melvins releases. A Walk With Love & Death falls somewhere between a more matured version of 1994's Prick, an awkward but wonderful soundscape of subconscious sludgey and deflated punk-ish rock, and 1999's The Bootlicker, which took their signature sound (another joke in and of itself) and just simply played it quieter. Ever since I saw them perform live, I’ve been a Melvins devotee. I approach almost everything they do with a smirk because there is a sense of humor that is cemented firmly in the foundation of this band. It's great to see them as potent as ever returning to a three piece line up after a long stint as a four piece, and it’s also great to see them back in more experimental territory.
A Walk With Love & Death is a walk down memory lane in some sense but they return to this posture with the same vigor that was there 20 years ago. If you decide to start with this band with this release, prepare yourself for a trip that is both long and strange, both funny and terrifying, but completely uncompromising and wholly original. And THAT is The Melvins! (Adam)
Check out a track here