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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