Home Read Albums Of The Week: Melvins | Tarantula Heart

Albums Of The Week: Melvins | Tarantula Heart

The punk sludgemeisters continue to play by their own rules on their umpteenth set.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The new Melvins album Tarantula Heart is like nothing they have done before. It could be the best work they’ve ever recorded. It’s certainly one of their weirdest — the five-song album opens with a mammoth 19-minute track called Pain Equals Funny, and also includes the noise-laden heavy hitter Working The Ditch.

“The way we approached Tarantula Heart was different than any other Melvins album,” explains guitarist Buzz Osborne. “I had Dale (Crover) and Roy Mayorga come in and play along with Steven (McDonald) and I to some riffs, then I took those sessions and figured out what parts would work and wrote new music to fit. This isn’t a studio approach we’ve ever taken. Usually we have the songs written BEFORE we start recording!” Adds long-time Melvins drummer Crover: “The majority of Tarantula Heart has dual drum parts. We invited Roy Mayorga from Ministry to come record with us. Roy is an amazing drummer! We would discuss what we would do pattern-wise, then we’d just go for it, improvising riffs and trading off on drum fills.”

“When the rest of the band heard these songs I’d created from the sessions, they were blown away,” said Buzz. “These were fully developed new songs that they’d never heard before that had seemingly appeared out of thin air. Presto!”

In actuality nothing appeared out of thin air. Buzz spent hours and hours with the drum tracks by himself, writing songs to what he was hearing. This weird musical process created an album that sounds like musical magic, in fact. Melvins/Redd Kross bassist McDonald describes Tarantula Heart as “an album so magical, I helped create it without knowing it was happening. It’s definitely the weirdest album I’ve ever been a part of.”

Also appearing on Tarantula Heart is We Are The Asteroid guitar player Gary Chester, who Melvins recently toured with and who was a previous labelmate as part of the legendary Austin band Ed Hall.

Tarantula Heart was recorded, mixed and produced by long-time collaborator Toshi Kasai at The Sound of Sirens Studio in Los Angeles. Kasai jokingly describes this incarnation of the Melvins as “five sons a bitches.” Buzz says of Kasai: “I can’t imagine making records without him and I can’t wait to start on the next one.” Without question, Tarantula Heart is a huge milestone for Melvins. It’s rock-solid and looks great, with brilliantly executed cover art by Mackie Osborne.

One of modern music’s most influential bands, Melvins were formed by Osborne in 1983 in Montesano, Washington. Crover joined the following year. They merged the worlds of punk and heavy music, forming a new subgenre all their own. Over the band’s 40-plus-year history, they’ve released more than 30 studio albums, numerous live sets and far too many singles to count.  Recent releases include 2022’s Bad Mood Rising, a collection of what Melvins do, what they can do and what they want to do, and 2021’s 36-track acoustic collection Five Legged Dog, featuring reinterpretations of some of the band’s heaviest songs as well as covers of their favorite artists. In the course of their discography, they’ve partnered with Jello Biafra, Mudhoney and Fantômas.

Melvins have toured the world many times over. In fact, the band had the misfortune to be in both Christchurch and Tokyo for their 2011 earthquakes. In 2012, they completed the 51 States in 51 Days (50 states +DC) tour, which was chronicled in the film Across The USA in 51 Days. The current incarnation of the band is Osborne, Crover, and McDonald. Previous lineups included a pairing of Osborne and Crover with Big Business members Jared Warren and Coady Willis, a four-piece featuring Butthole SurfersJeff Pinkus, as well as Melvins Lite, which partners Osborne and Crover with Mr. Bungle’s Trevor Dunn. Sometimes, if you’re extra lucky, another version of Melvins will open for Melvins.”