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- This Machine Kills Artists by King Buzzo
7/10 Jim Staff review, 13 June 2014
An acoustic album by Melvins riff machine Buzz Osborne might strike some people as a surprising move. On the face of it you’d think that the power of Melvins’ music owed much to volume and sheer heaviness; not to mention Dale Crover’s incredibly stubborn drumming- ever the perfect foil for Buzzo’s primal yet convoluted guitar style. Yet, for fans of the band’s by now pretty vast and wide ranging back catalogue, it seems like a natural move. For me at least, some of the band’s meanest moments have been when the volume comes down; hearing those brooding, tortuous riffs toned down a notch nails a certain seething passive-aggressiveness that’s way too subtle for most other sludge/stoner/grunge/whatever bands.
One of the most notable things on this album is how immediately recognisable Buzz’s guitar style is, despite being played on acoustic guitar throughout. The rawness of his highly rhythmical attack and the intuitive way he counterpoints drone, dissonance and melody is highlighted on the acoustic- it almost feels like some weird cousin of delta blues such is the way that he inhabits the instrument. Then of course is his voice; bellowing dementedly, chanting, moaning and whispering creepily by turns. The stripped-downess of the album as a whole might make it a challenge for some ears, and I wish there was kinda more dynamics to his relentless riffing, but at its best this feels like a sweet trip to the source.
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