Melvins - Stag
Sludge Rock/Metal
16 songs (51:05)
Release year: 1996
Melvins, Atlantic Records
Reviewed by Crash
Archive review

To say that The Melvins were an unusual band would be a vast understatement. For over twenty years and now over twenty albums, the band has remained consistent, churning out new releases year after year. Unfortunately, like other bands with such a huge catalogue it can be quite hard to know where to start. It is as if the band has created such a huge mountain of material that it seems impossible to know where to start the climb.

The Melvins tend to stick to two formats of albums: The weird ones and the normal ones. Unfortunately, the terms weird and normal do little to help explain as they are all pretty weird. The normal albums tend to have a heavier focus on individual songs with a shorter running time while the weird ones go off into spacey almost jams that usually eventually turn into noise. Melvins never have any fear of alienating the listener and will often put a ten minute block of noise right in the middle of an album just to make sure you were paying attention.

Luckily, Stag fits right in between the niche. Equal parts rock album and experimental, this is the perfect place to start if you of the uninitiated. It isn’t their best or even my favorite (is there really a best Melvins album?) but it was the one that got me into their sound and into a lot of similar bands.

For the people who want the meat of the album, there is plenty. Anyone that has heard a Melvins song before knows just how crushingly heavy they can be. Invoking the essence of Sabbath to a T and in my opinion carrying that spirit further than any of the typical Sabbath worship bands, the guitars are loud, the drums are louder, and frontman King Buzzo has quite a bite in his words. Each phrase he speaks sounds like rocks being crushed. I am a huge fan of art through ugliness and The Melvins don’t have a problem being ridiculously ugly. The Bit is simply crushing. I remember hearing this song for the first time when I saw Mastodon on the Leviathan. Playing in a dinky little club, they finished off their set with what would be one of the heaviest songs I’d ever heard. It’s true that rock can oftentimes be heavier than metal and one just needs to listen to the first minute of The Bit to make it clear.

After a few more songs like the horn rockin Bar X the Rocking M or the frighteningly whimsical Black Bock, the album starts to daydream. This daydreaming has the same effect on me as The Smashing Pumpkins Melloncollie and the Infinite Sadness where the songs stand on their own feet but don’t amount to much, but when put in the context of an album are perfect. The sounds compliment each other extremely well and by the end you’ve gone through a gamut of weird unsightly emotions. Luckily, it still stays eerily pleasant despite the noise. The highlight of the end is Captain Pungent, a pretty little song pitched to sound like a music box. Then you realize that Buzzo’s voice was as well you can successfully say that you have heard what The Melvins would have sounded like as chipmunks.

Stag is far from perfect, but so is every Melvins album. They have carved a little place for themselves in the anals of rock, uncaring about what the next big thing is or what is hot. They just play music in the only way that they know how, by writing for themselves. A lot of respect goes out to The Melvins as it should. Anybody that can say that they have survived life on their own terms is fine by me.

Killing Songs :
The Bit, Bar X the Rocking M, Black Bock
Crash quoted 86 / 100
Goat quoted 87 / 100
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 - The Bride Screamed Murder reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Melvins - Lysol reviewed by Phil and quoted no quote
Melvins - Nude With Boots reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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