MELVINS — Six Songs (review)

MELVINS — Six Songs album cover EP · 1986 · Sludge Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
While bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden often erroneously get credited for the advent of grunge and alternative forms of metal, in reality another Washington act like Montesano’s MELVINS was taking elements of hardcore punk, classic rock and heavy metal and mixing it all together as early as 1983 when the band was formed by longtime members Buzz Osbourne (vocals, guitars) and Dale Crover (drums) both of whom have been in the band since its formation.

In addition to the alternative grunge scene that would take the world by storm a decade alter, MELVINS were also instrumental in forging sludge metal which has become quite popular in the last few decades as it successfully bridged the gap between hardcore punk and doom metal with its heavily distorted guitar sounds and contrasting slow-down tempos that together offered a unique abrasiveness hitherto unknown in the world of heavy metal.

The band took a few years to hone its sound but by 1986 it unleashed its first release in the form of the EP titled 6 SONGS which threw the disparate genera of hardcore punk, noise rock, grunge and doom metal into the cauldron and crafted the very first example sludge metal at least sludge metal that was fully developed as punk bands like Black Flag often are cited as offering the first clues of where extreme punk and metal were heading.

6 SONGS was originally released as a vinyl 7” and was followed by another EP titled “10 Songs” in 1991 and eventually were released together as the compilation “26 Songs” in 2003. While this EP does play an important role in developing the sludge metal style historically speaking, what is offered here is more akin to unpolished DIY garage punk that incorporated some doom metal elements to make it stand out from any other release of the era and for that it is revered far and wide for its innovative out of the box thinking.

As an entertaining listening experience though i don’t personally find it very satisfying as it is poorly recorded and the tracks aren’t very developed. Not that that’s a bad thing but i’m not a huge MELVINS fan to begin with and there is nothing on this unpolished first offering that particularly stands out as outstanding craftsmanship. As a key pivotal moment in metal history, 6 SONGS is truly noteworthy and should be experienced by all who are interested in the phylogeny of sludge metal but honestly if you’re looking for a primo sludge metal experience you’d have to fast forward to 90s when bands like Neurosis, Acid Bath, Eyehategod and even the MELVINS itself took the subgenre in more interesting directions.
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