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Melvins Biography

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Melvins In-depth Biography

The Melvins were the first post-punk band to revel in the slow, sludgy sounds of Black Sabbath. Their music is oppressively slow and heavy, only without any of the silly mystical lyrics or the indulgent guitar solos -- it's just one massive, oozing pile of dark slime. The Melvins' first record was released in 1987; they've released many albums since then, but it wasn't until 1993 that they went to a major label, thanks to their protégé, Kurt Cobain. While some may find the Melvins to be dull and repetitious, their place in rock history is interesting, even if considered to be just a footnote.

The band formed in Aberdeen, WA, the same town that produced Nirvana's Cobain and Krist Novoselic. For Nirvana and many other Seattle-area bands, the Melvins' sludge was inspirational; the younger bands took the Sabbath-styled heaviness of the Melvins, while adding an equally important pop song structure, which the group tended to lack. While all of their disciples became famous after Nirvana broke big in 1991 (including Mudhoney, who featured former Melvins bassist Matt Lukin), the Melvins only expanded their cult slightly. They did earn a major-label contract with Atlantic, but after releasing three records for the label, they were dropped in late 1996 and the group returned to indie status, landing with Amphetamine Reptile for 1998's Alive at the F*cker Club. The late '90s/early 21st century saw a flurry of releases by the band: The Maggot, The Bootlicker, The Crybaby, Electroretard, The Colossus of Destiny, Hostile Ambient Takeover, Pigs of the Roman Empire, Houdini Live 2005: A Live History of Gluttony and Lust, all of which (except for the fourth one) were issued on Mike Patton's Ipecac label.

In addition to their Melvins activities, singer/guitarist Buzz Osborne joined Patton (and former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn) for the experimental outfit Fantômas, resulting in a number of releases (1999's self-titled debut, 2001's The Director's Cut, 2002's Millennium Monsterwork by "the Fantômas Melvins Big Band" [recorded live in San Francisco on New Year's Eve 2000 but not released until two years later], 2004's Delirium Cordia, and 2005's Suspended Animation), while the Melvins' latest bassist, Kevin Rutmanis, joined Patton in another side project, Tomahawk. In 2006, Big Business bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis joined the Melvins, appearing on that year's Senile Animal album. The follow-ups, Nude with Boots and The Bride Screamed Murder, were recorded by the same lineup and released by Ipecac in 2008 and 2010. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato, Rovi
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