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The Melvins (left to right: Dale Crover, Steven Shane McDonald, Buzz Osborne) have been doing things their own way—with varying degrees of ‘success’—for over 40 years.

Photo by Chris Casella

Forty-one years into their career, King Buzzo and his relentlessly creative heavy-music outsiders are more sure than ever that there are no rules for success.

On the Melvins’ new record, Tarantula Heart, the first track alone is longer than most hardcore punk records. “Pain Equals Funny” builds, collapses, and rebuilds over nearly 20 minutes. It’s grungy and bizarre and confrontational, swerving across prog-metal, industrial, noise, and grease-smeared stoner rock. Buzz Osborne’s trademark foghorn voice, sounding out from between his mad-scientist hair and high-priest robes, blasts in and out of the track with contextless proclamations and anecdotes, his behemoth guitar thrashing across an ocean of distortion. Steven Shane McDonald’s bass drones, flooding the room; Dale Crover’s drums, often doubled and bolstered by Ministry drummer Roy Mayorga’s, are punishing, bare-knuckled and relentless. Feedback interrupts in squeals, then in squalls, until it’s all you can hear—then, it’s instruments that disrupt the feedback, rather than the other way around. The track stews and clangs and hulks along without any indication of where it’s heading next. It’s the sound of chaos distilled and reined in, just barely. It sounds a bit like life.

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From left to right: The Bill Orcutt Guitar Quartet is composed of guitarists Shane Parish, Ava Mendoza, Wendy Eisenberg, and Bill Orcutt—each virtuosos from the world of experimental music.

The arc of this revolutionary player’s career, which began with an acoustic and led to post- and noise-rock, has carried him to an unforeseen home in avant-garde composition.

Bill Orcutt gets enough questions about his unique 4-string approach to the guitar that he once titled a compilation “Why Four Strings?” As it turns out, there were no intentions or inspirations when he chanced upon the setup in the 1980s. “My guitar was kind of neglected at the time, so it somehow ended up having four strings on it,” Orcutt explains. “I started noodling and writing around that random configuration, and a friend of mine who played drums wanted to start a band.”

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Jessica has been Slash’s main stage guitar since 1988 when Gibson sent him the original Jessica, a factory second. Now Gibson adds the Slash “Jessica” Les Paul Standard model to their Slash Collection—a new model based on Slash’s old favorite, street-priced at $3,199.

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Rig Rundown: Adrian Vandenberg

Here he goes again on his own.

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Justin Chancellor's #1 Wal Bass for Tool
Justin Chancellor's #1 Wal Bass Guitar for Tool

The Tool bass legend and his tech Pete Lewis detail the specs behind the instrument that has created some of the band's most iconic riffs.