Melvins - Lysol
Boner Records
Sludge Rock/Doom Grunge
6 songs (31:16)
Release year: 1992
Reviewed by Phil
Archive review

As much as I love the Melvins, I’ll be the first to admit that they are frustrating at times. As I’ve acquainted myself with their back catalog, I’ve slowly learned something. Just because an album has ‘Melvins’ on the cover, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the same band. In fact, I’ve come to think of the Melvins as three distinct bands. The first band is a quirky, boppy grunge band. The next band is a silly and annoying noise act. The final band is the heaviest damn band on the planet. Obviously, I could point to examples of all three facets of the Melvins, but I’m gonna stick with the heavy side here. My thesis for this review is that no album typifies the true, distilled heaviness of the Melvins more than their six track EP Lysol. There’s no electronic experimentation, no nerdy knob twiddling and no looping samples. It’s just three dudes – King Buzzo, Dale Crover and Joe Preston – playing heavy, heavy, heavy music. The album also serves as Preston’s swan song with the group. He was fired soon after its completion.

Opener Hung Bunny is an 11-minute riff. No seriously, it’s one riff played for 11 minutes. Okay, so it’s not all riff…there’s some faint chanted vocals, some occasional bass notes and the drums come in at the end. Still, the song almost feels like a scientific viewing of King Buzzo’s guitar playing. As he methodically strums the chords over and over, the listener is able to view the droning guitar part from all angles. You can immerse yourself in the jagged sound. When Crover makes his seismic appearance around the eight-minute mark, you’re debating what’s heavier, the riff or the drumming. Roman Bird Dog flows directly from Hung Bunny. When the second track starts, the repetitive drone riff keeps a stomping time as Crover accents every beat with his mammoth pounding. Buzzo’s echoing vocals come in after 45 seconds. The band plods through the tune with a relaxed and inspired deliberateness. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Melvins have never been in a hurry to get anywhere, and every single one of the 440 seconds that make up this song is a keeper.

The next song, Sacrifice, is the first of a trio of covers on the album. The song was written and originally performed by San Francisco slow punk pioneers Flipper. The cover makes perfect sense as Flipper’s morose and sloppy early albums had to have had a huge influence on the Melvins. A pulsating bass intro is soon joined by drums and guitar noise. Unbelievably, the Melvins have made the song downright catchy. The Melvins’ regimented rhythms and masterful playing put a polish on the tune that few Flipper fans would have expected.

Second Coming and The Ballad of Dwight Frye are a combo of covers from Alice Cooper’s seminal Love it to Death album. The band doesn’t cover all of Second Coming; they steal the snare drum beat and guitar lick to create an instrumental intro for the shortened version of The Ballad of Dwight Frye. If it weren’t for Crover’s throbbing drums, this three-minute version of The Ballad of Dwight Fry would actually be kind of delicate. Buzzo’s guitars are subdued, his vocals are semi-reverent and Preston’s bass playing falls in line perfectly. Still, there’s no holding back Crover’s drumming. His bass drum jumps from the speakers during the verses, and his snare adds a ton of emphasis to the sing-a-long chorus. This song is the master stroke on the album.

With Teeth is a weirdly fitting album closer. The riff somehow evokes longing, endings and finality in a touching way. The off-kilter song never settles into a groove, and it’s all the more moving for it. The final 38 seconds of the song are also a kick drum clinic put on by Crover. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of his drumming when it comes to the Melvins.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you it took me seven years to “get” the Melvins. I had seen the band live three times, and I had spent time with numerous albums before I completely understood where they were coming from. In my opinion, there’s no finer starting point for the band than Lysol.

Killing Songs :
Phil quoted no quote
Other albums by Melvins that we have reviewed:
Melvins - Everybody Loves Sausages reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Melvins - Freak Puke reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
Melvins - Stag reviewed by Crash and quoted 86 / 100
Melvins - The Bride Screamed Murder reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Melvins - Nude With Boots reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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