The Melvins have a long and storied career of being different. Their unique and pioneering sound has won them fans, friends, and accolades over the years, but their indifference to the norm is what keeps them going. Unlike other stoner and sludge bands, The Melvins were always more of a punk band than a Black Sabbath rip-off. That punk attitude contributed to their different state of mind. Here’s a new, pun-i-fied thought experiment for the band. Why not try an album with six different bass players through twelve songs? Basses Loaded also features every member that has been a part of The Melvins, so it’s an interesting affair.
Your expected oddities arise, unfortunately (“Shaving Cream” is unpleasant, to say the least), and “Maybe I Am Amused” isn’t as amusing as it wants to be), but Basses Loaded is a mostly cohesive offering. Much of the album feels rather laid back, but that’s to be expected of a band well into their third decade. “Planet Destructo” allows Trevor Dunn to play around with his bass, to great effect, but much of the album is just The Melvins being themselves: silly, fun, sludgy riff rock. Take the interestingly named “War Pussy”, with its straight-forward punch and fellow jam “Phyllis Dillard”; the band hasn’t forgotten how to rock. You’d expect a baseball tune somewhere in the mix, and the album closes with the classic “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”. It’s unfortunately just fine.
That’s really where we’re left after all this thought experiment. Basses Loaded is a fine Melvins album, and while it has its occasional flair, it doesn’t do enough to rise to the level of the band’s best. It’s good enough and certainly is worth the exercise, but it’s not a world beater of an album. (Nicholas Senior)