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April 19, 2024

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26 Songs (Ipecac Recordings)

By: Vinnie Apicella

The album formerly known as "10 Songs" gets a 16-track boost by way of "some alternate recordings and garage demos." Funny, you'd be hard pressed to know the difference where the original ten begin and the last one ends. The sound quality is every bit 1986 and done live to two track to boot -- imagine a corkscrew of sound entering your head and exiting both ears in bloody chunks. Credit where its due, Melvins began life before most of what we consider ground breakers of the age like Helmet or Q.O.T.A. and god bless 'em, they haven't changed much; still as irritably noisy and technically reckless as before, though we may thank the modern era for advancements in sound production in their later years, none of which are present here. There's no disguising the Melvins in any age however, nor can we get around those beloved skips and scratches that begin surfacing with track eleven and go deeper from there. I had to listen twice, but no, it's not Buzzo's persistent roar, though it does match up well with the ultra low-fi discharge. With barely a tour under their belt and lucky to lose a buck, they did this original 10 song abomination at a time when Punk Rock, Metal, and Hardcore didn't have the slightest clue. So falling somewhere between Sabbath, Venom, Circle Jerks, Cro-Mags and D.R.I., and apparently landing on their feet somehow -- eighteen records and monumental underground fame -- these empty-pocketed saviors make like shit on the shoe on more occasions than booze and dead brain cells. King Buzzo's (Buzz Osbourne back then) emits a genuinely painful grunt for vox, much like a phlegm induced cough following a plodding, shuffling, wall of sludge and speed that's as untimely as it is ultimately endearing for its distinctive aggression and discordance. Most of the extra tracks are satanically strewn repeat performances of the originals and lend nothing to their listenability yet there's something so completely charming about picking up that needle on vinyl again. Worth hearing twice would be tunes like "Now A Limo," "Grinding Process," "Snake Appeal--" anyone for three times actually? "Set Me Straight's" a "new" addition that smokes on all cylinders specially with the double barrel drumming. So here you've got yet another reason to love the Melvins or at least show your next door neighbors how much you care. Also featuring a flowery redone cover art and four page insider notes on club closing remembrances and how to "be unappreciative bastards" and still come out alright!
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