Despite often being described as purveyors in the grunge and stoner metal genres, it’s a mistake to think of The Melvins strictly on those terms.
Whether it be 2001’s two-track surprise, the aptly named Colossus of Destiny, or the series of tributes that was Everybody Loves Sausages in 2013, they’ve proven themselves time and again as capable of braving the typically untrodden and taking new ground on with gusto.
Pinkus Abortion Technician appears at first to attempt to set itself apart for The Melvins in its adoption of two bassists. Steven McDonald, an ongoing bassist for The Melvins and formally of Redd Kross and Off!, and Jeff Pinkus, of Butthole Surfers fame, both take on the low end on the new album, a two-pronged approach that, on this showing, sounds like it was always meant to be. Flicking from the psychedelic expression of ‘’Flamboyant Duck’’ to the flailing ‘’Prenup Butter’’, the two interlock joyously throughout, adding a new dynamic and sense of groove to the band’s sound.
Even this however isn’t totally new ground for The Melvins. They’re well accustomed to hosting guests, the most notable example previously being the Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra appearing on Never Breathe What You Can't See and Sieg Howdy! released in 2004 and 2005. They’ve also played with multiple performers of the same instrument, with 2006’s (A) Senile Animal featuring Big Business drummer Coady Willis and bassist Jared Warren, resulting in two drummers being used simultaneously. Adopting guests and offering unorthodox musical arrangements are part and parcel of what The Melvins do, and the dual bassists here is, in principle, nothing new for the band.
New ground, in most ways, Pinkus Abortion Technician may not be then. However, what it most certainly does is it confirms The Melvins’ ability to make their experimental brand of rock remain relevant. The Melvins’ vocalist, guitarist and most recognisable member, Buzz Osborne, plays as eccentrically as ever and sounds as fresh and full of life as he did thirty years ago.
The misfiring cover of The Beatles’ ‘’I Want To Hold Your Hand’’ aside, Pinkus Abortion Technician is more than a legacy record for the band. It reflects their continued enthusiasm and well of ideas and, most importantly, their willingness to keep it weird.