Rhythm & Views 


Following the successful self-revisionism of the recently reformed Stooges, the battering, sludge-hammer gods known as the Melvins have taken one of the most revered and groundbreaking noise-grunge albums, Houdini, and re-recorded the entire bombastic affair "live" (adding a few changes and scant extras) a dozen years after its initial major-label debut. While the Stooges basically re-created the aural sculpture of their revolutionary 1970 album Funhouse, almost note for note, and toured the same to a fan's nostalgic delight, the always-renovating Melvins have added an array of skull-fracturing twists and chugging guitars to their usual Sabbath-on-Thorazine death march, with gratifying results.

The Melvins rearticulate the album's initial objectives, investigating the implications (and not the subtleties) of its elemental foundation. The mechanical tension of "Hooch" is now replaced by muscular guitars and a quicker tempo; the fuzz-bass anthem "Night Goat" has an added dimension of creepiness incorporating blasts of feedback, crashing cymbals and an utter sense of doom, while the original slug-stuck-in-salt arrangement of Kiss' "Going Blind" pulsates with renewed energy as it throbs in a hailstorm of six-string howitzers and untreated vocals.

Though devoid of any expected concert fireworks (this invitation-only live session was recorded in a warehouse), Houdini Live 2005 still crackles with the guttural, hellfire catharsis of singer/guitarist Buzz Osborne and the precise, jackhammer drumming of Dale Crover, both colliding like a flow of volcanic magma down a 50-story iceberg.

More by Ron Bally


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