Tracklist01. Nude with Boots
02. Dog Island
03. Dies Iraea
04. Civilized Worm
05. The Kicking Machine
06. Eye Flies
07. Tipping The Lion
08. Rat Faced Granny
09. The Hawk
10. You’ve Never Been Right
11. A History of Bad Men
12. Star Spangled Banner
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The Melvins are without a doubt one of alternative metal’s most established living legends. Their historic career has steadily cracked skulls with blunt ferociousness for nearly thirty years now, and while they remain shrouded in the shadows of the underground, there’s little question regarding the enormity of their influence and creativity. Since their humble beginnings performing at The Elks Lodge in 1983, the Melvins have amassed a catalog that stands second to none, recording over twenty-eight studio albums of grunge and sludge while never settling into predictability. Sure there are elements you can guarantee: King Buzzo’s riffs are going to be gargantuan and brutally crushing, and Dale Crover’s drumming is going to be equally punishing and explosive with an abrasive complexity. Reproduced in a live setting, increase the intensity, volume, and sheer heaviness to the breaking point and that’s where The Melvins sit comfortably. Their concerts have been must-see occasions for the better part of two decades thanks to their never ending quest for molten thick sludge and machine gun rhythms.
The band has documented their live shows over the years, always capturing a glimpse of where they were musically at the time, because let’s face it, The Melvins aren’t a band content with playing “the hits.” Their first live album came in the form of 1991’s reluctant Your Choice Live, followed in ’97 with Alive at the Fucker Club, 2001’s painfully experimental Colossus of Destiny, the glorious Houdini Live 2005: A Live History of Gluttony and Lust, and a slew of rare and limited editions over the past few years. Sugar Daddy Live showcases the band’s current line-up with Buzzo, Dale, and their Big Business partners-in-sludge, Coady Willis (drums) and Jared Warren (bass/vocals). Having played together for over five years now, the revitalized band has released three stellar albums that can go toe-to-toe with the best of the Melvins catalog, and Sugar Daddy captures their live intensity. The set, comprised mainly of songs from the criminally underrated Nude With Boots and A Senile Animal, is a testament to the strengths of the Melvins as a quartet; unbelievable mirror image drumming from two exceptionally gifted drummers, gruff melodic vocal harmonization, and a slab of guitars thicker than concrete.
After a lengthy bout of feedback and false starts The Melvins kick into the surprisingly upbeat stoner roar of Nude With Boots’ title track. The dizzying riff leads into the triumphant vocal melody and precise doubled drumming, slamming together in frantic unison. “Dog Island” slows that tempo down several notches to a suffocating pace, dense with guitar sludge and lumbering low end. This is the type of riff they have perfected over time, Buzzo mechanically grinding out trudging doom at maximum volume to a riotous audience. The guys transition from the slow instrumental “Dies Iraea,” a rendition of The Shining theme, into “Civilized Worm,” a song featuring a riff that wouldn’t be out of place on a Foo Fighters record. It may sound strange out of context but works to create one of the albums catchiest moments, buried in distortion with a chant-a-long vocal melody and pounding rhythms that stampede all the way into a dual marching band style solo synchronized as though the two men were one.
“The Kicking Machine,” one of the finest moments of their past decade channels the spirit of Led Zeppelin with a bluesy guitar riff and enormous drum fills that recall a four armed version of John Bonham. Buzz and Jared’s vocal harmonization locks in tight, both barking and shouting over the anthemic groove. “Eye Flys,” a song from 1987’s Gluey Porch Treatments, moves at a snail’s pace, creaking and crawling with fading drum fills cascading together and haunting cracks of guitar noise that roar and fade within moments. The fills are explosive enough to keep your attention for nearly seven minutes of build-up before everything comes to a head and Buzzo goes berserk with a monolithic riff that is simply hard as nails. The warm psychedelic tones of “Tipping The Lions” brings a welcoming tonality change and the set’s most expansive vocal melodies. Buzz rips into a mind altering solo and the rhythm blasts away in jaw dropping fashion and with that, all is right in the world of The Melvins. The slow churning gloom storm is momentarily lifted via the chaotic “Rat Faced Granny” and “The Hawk,” two speedy punk tracks that gasp with sonic overload and stop start rhythmic exploration.
“You’ve Never Been Right” moves in various speeds, warping and convulsing under Buzzo’s impossibly heavy riffs and propelled by the unnaturally amazing duel drumming. Crover and Willis’ drumming is a behemoth of a spectacle to watch live, and this live release proves it holds its own on record as well. “A History of Bad Men,” another of the quartet’s finest, rips with scathing intensity and howl-along vocals, rumbling into insanity and charging straight over the edge pushing the sonic envelope to new depths. After a bizarre acapella take on the “Star Spangled Banner,” The Melvins unleash fan favorite “Boris,” the crowning achievement of 91’s Bullhead, courtesy of its brutal droning intensity, doom-inspired repetition, and strangely unfolding dynamics that encapsulate the quartet at their heaviest. Sugar Daddy Live is a statement of where The Melvins are at after three decades, legendary musicians with never-ending creativity, continuing their reign as one of the best live acts heavy music has ever known.