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The only thing to expect when it comes to a new record from The Melvins is the unexpected. Every album from Seattle’s finest noise-rockers is either going to be fifty steps forward or twenty steps back. On their latest, Freak Puke, they’re kind of in the middle with songs fitting the Houdini/Stoner Witch-era while managing to sound like nothing else the band have done before. To throw things off even more, Freak Puke is performed using the moniker “Melvins Lite” and sees mainstays Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover play as a trio again enlisting Trevor Dunn (Fantomas, Mr. Bungle) for bass duties. Don’t worry, the Big Business boys are still part of “regular” The Melvins (And you can check them out on the free EP The Bulls & The Bees released earlier this year).

Opener “Mr. Rip Off” is either subtle or sinister (Quite possibly both knowing The Melvins). Dale Crover lays in with some shuffle beats to confuse listeners even more as Dunn prefaces with some nasty bass stylings. By the time King Buzzo enters with his sing-song voice, you’ll hear why The Melvins are easily kindred spirits to Primus (Think “Fisherman Chronicles” and Mike Doughty’s acoustic work). “Mr. Rip Off” is a solid six minute opener bookended by an even more solid (and longer) closer in “Tommy Goes Beserk” (If ever one song was to sum up the feel of this album, it’d be this one).”Inner Ear Rupture” continues the eerie and has the most fitting song title on the record.

It’s not until “Baby, Won’t You Weird Me Out” that the mega Osborne riffs make their first appearance albeit amidst some crazy playing from Dunn to lead in. The middle is where Freak Puke hits its stride and “A Growing Disgust” is the pinnacle. Riffs abound (especially the outro), a soulful solo and a guitar line reminiscent of a Metallica/Megadeth song (No joke!) make “A Growing Disgust” the standout here. As a whole, though, Freak Puke just owns and is an impressive and diverse addition to the already impressive and diverse catalog of The Melvins.

Freak Puke is out on June 5th through Ipecac Recordings.

Grade: A

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